thief of time

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Raspberry Memories

I was off browsing the net and came across a site where the author talked about taking her Granddaughter out picking raspberries (

It brought back quite a few memories of my own raspberry picking days, not all of them wonderful.

<>My parents were very much into growing everything they possibly could and freezing and preserving whatever wouldn’t keep. We only had a typical quarter acre block, but it’s amazing what you can fit on a quarter acre, and most of it totally designed to ruin the life of any self-respecting teen hoping to avoid anything that looked remotely like work. <>

We would usually visit my mum’s family at the old family farm every year or two for a summer holiday which I thoroughly enjoyed. One year, however, my aunt took us out to her raspberry patch. I’m sure everyone knows the scene in Crocodile Dundee where Paul Hogan says “Now that’s a knife”. Well, that’s sort of what happened at the farm. I suppose my aunt thought we city slickers would enjoy getting back to nature. Coming from a town of 4000 people, I was very much a slicker, though perhaps not exactly “city” and I quite liked the comforts of town life.

Instead of lounging in the shade with a book, we settled in for several hours of serious picking. If I had thought it was tough in our own patch, I was clearly mistaken. They had insects on that farm that I’d never seen in civilisation and far more ferocious. Industrial strength insect repellent had to be used and it didn’t keep them away from your mouth or your eyes.

<>We finally reached the end of our day and took our buckets of berries back to the house. Most of them were destined for jam, but my Aunt asked if I, the oldest granddaughter, would like to clean some for dinner

I think I would have been in my early teens, at the age when “near enough is good enough”. I got to work and had soon filled a crystal serving bowl with lovely fresh red raspberries. They were sprinkled with some sugar to draw out the juices and set aside for dessert.

When we came in for dinner, the berries were quite a sight. It wasn’t just the juices that had been drawn out. Waving at the top were lots of little white worms, waving frantically, probably in distress—almost as much distress as I felt. I’m sure you can imagine the almost horror movie effect of it all, plus the gross teenage embarrassment at being caught out.

I’m not sure what happened after that—I think nature sometimes blurs these horrible memories, though I’m sure I had to get a spoon and go fishing.

After that, there was no one who was more meticulous with raspberries than I was. I would look inside every single berry, no matter how many there were. In fact, it got so that I wouldn’t trust anyone else in the family to do the job properly. Now that I’ve reached my parents’ age myself, I realise that I was probably wise not to trust middle aged eyes to the centre of a dark raspberry.

Unfortunately, now that I live in Sydney, there are no such things as raspberry patches, so my kids have missed a lot of the joys and character building that I went through.

Raspberries are so dear I even miss the raspberry patch. What a difference a few years make.


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