The Taste of Raspberries

We’ve got a monstrous red raspberry bush out in the back yard, behind the vegetable garden, near the stockade fence that separates our yard from the neighbor’s yard behind us.  Besides the rasberry bush, which came from Bill’s mom’s yard, there are two blueberry bushes and a little spare garden Bill put together to corral the extra pepper and tomato plants we had this year.

The raspberry bush is a wild creature that sends out runners under ground that sprout in unexpected places with new little monster raspberry plants.  I’m sure the neighbors have some in their yard.  Think Little Shop of Horrors, only without the carnage or the singing.

The nice thing about the raspberry bush this year is that we’ve had two harvests.  The first one earlier in the summer, and the second one now.  My sister’s got the same thing going on with her raspberry bush.  Pretty cool.

The taste of just-picked raspberries is one of those tastes that connects to a certain period of my childhood.  I was younger than seven.  It was before my mom’s parents moved to RI.  They still lived in Fair Lawn, NJ, and we would drive down to visit them periodically throughout the year.  They’d drive up to visit us too, but of course it was way more fun to go there.

Their driveway was on the left side of the house, if you were facing the house from the street.  The neighbor’s driveway was right next to my grandparents’, and the two were separated by a long cement half-wall that my sister and I liked to walk on.  It was maybe 6 inches wide (I’m guessing here) and we would walk from one end to the other, like tightrope walkers.  Very exciting and – in our minds – a little dangerous.  I’m guessing the wall was maybe two feet high.

Behind my grandparents’ yard was another neighbor’s property, but the interesting thing about it was that it was higher than my grandparents’ yard.  Much higher.  We’d climb up onto the cement half wall and climb up into the Zabriskys’ huge yard.  (I may have spelled their name wrong, by the way.)  Anyway, their yard was – to me – huge.  They had a great big garden and at least one greenhouse – and raspberry bushes.  They would invite my sister and me into the yard and offer us just-picked raspberries…I believe they had several varieties.  I don’t remember what else they grew – but I remember the raspberries – that tart, juicy bite, warm from the sun, kind of crunchy from the seeds.

They also had 3 Bantam hens that patrolled the grounds.  Their names were Lu-Lu, Taw-Taw, and Brownie.  Brownie was, not surprisingly, all brown, and the other two were brown and white.  They were so cute and tiny!  I loved them.  The Zabriskys (Zabriskis?) would send over eggs for us and we’d have them fried for breakfast – little kid-sized eggs.  Magical little treats.  And I didn’t even like eggs back then…but I’m pretty sure I liked these.

So anyway – that’s where the raspberries have been taking me this season.  Fair Lawn, New Jersey, a good many years ago.

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