buy the raspberries


We picked bowlfuls of black raspberries every June when I was a kid. The location of the patch is top secret. Somehow, in the abundance of our black raspberries, red raspberries seemed superior. They were plumper and prettier. My mom put them on a pedestal. “I wish we had red raspberries, too,” she said.

This is not to mean that we do not love our black raspberries. We do. I was just sure that red raspberries must taste better, although I never tasted one, nor could I imagine any berry topping the black raspberry.

One year the raspberry harvest was slim,  so we contemplated buying them. They were so expensive. In the grocery store, I sometimes spotted red raspberries, but they were so expensive. I grew up and never entertained the idea of buying raspberries, after all, they were so expensive.

One day, I wheeled my cart around the end cap of the fruit section at Aldi’s and there were red raspberries on sale for $0.99. I paused. I never bought red raspberries before. I stretched to reach a pack and my back pulled. It was tender with bruises from the bedtime routine that never seemed to make sense. It was predictable. It was comforting. It was loving. Yet, our young daughter was so angry, and bedtime was always a trigger for a fit.

I brought the raspberries to my nose and smelled their sweet scent. I was surprised at the strength of their aroma. I dropped them into my cart and felt like I was doing something wrong. We don’t buy raspberries in the store.

Isn’t it strange the rules that dictate our adult lives?

The red raspberries were delicious, but not the same as the black raspberries from my childhood. I remembered the bedtime routine at the end of raspberry picking days. My mom filled a small bowl with a bleach and water mixture, and we dipped our finger tips in the bowl while Mom drew the bath.

The smell burned my nose, but I rubbed the purple and blue splotches on my fingertips. Once inside the bubblebath, I used my stained fingertips to draw watery purple doodles on the sides of the bathtub. My fingers wrinkled and the raspberry ink faded from the pads of my fingers.

My mom helped me slip my nightgown over my head. She sprayed Tame detangler in my hair and combed my curls. We settled in with a book, my brother snuggled on one side of Mom and me on the other.

Bedtime was soft and sweet, cozy and calm. It was a stark contrast to the bedtime routine I faced each night with my own daughter. The one of chaos and bruises.

It is late and the house is finally quiet. I am sitting on the end of the couch, staring at a black TV screen. My computer is closed in my lap. There is work to be finished, but I am exhausted.

Andy brings a small bowl of red raspberries and offers them to me. “Doesn’t it seem extravagant?” I ask.

“What is extravagant?” He returns my question with a question.

“A bowl of raspberries just for me to eat?” I ask.

“What else are we going to do with them?” Again, he returns my question with a question. Perhaps we are both too tired to have an original thought.

“It seems like I should make something, you know? Treat them special.”

“Stephanie is in bed; this is special,” Andy said.

It was soft and sweet, cozy and calm. I ate the raspberries. I wanted the perfect bedtime routine; the one that would nurture Stephanie in just the right ways so she would heal and become soft and calm. There isn’t a schedule that will work, any more than there is a magic elixir to bring healing to someone who is fighting for chaos and bruises.

It is rare to find raspberries for $0.99, but it is not rare to find a box in my refrigerator, no matter the season. I’ve learned to buy the raspberries. There are some things we can’t fix, no matter how much we long to do so. Sometimes the thing to do is just buy the raspberries.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

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  1. I LOVE this!! And I made Grandma Miller’s Apple Cake this week. Deeeee-lish!!

    • Funny what dictates our lives. The memories, the rules, they stick with us. I’m so glad you buy the raspberries…A delightful treat that transcends more than just red beauty and satisfying taste buds. There is always more to a story. Thanks fir sharing.

  2. Perfectly said. . . .Don’t save the crystal for special days! Have raspberries tonight! Living today is special enough! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

  3. My mom has never left her home to go anywhere without putting make-up on (she’s 85). It seemed like a rule. It took me a long time to feel comfortable going to the grocery store without it. Isn’t that silly? On the other hand, her favorite thing to pass on to me (besides her potato salad “recipe”) was to never buy cheap ice cream. Buy the good stuff!

  4. Love your story. Thanks for always providing a reminder to reflect and be in the moment.

  5. The extravagance of raspberries 🙂 and oh how you deserved them… just because… I love how the food threads through the life you lead with them… beautifully written that I’m engaged immediately and stay there riveted right to the end… 🙂

  6. Oh my, how magically you weave memories and thoughts and leave us pondering about several things. I think about how the past beliefs or expectations for the future can ties us down and let us judge things through tinted lens. Sometimes it is the simple acts like an offering of a bowl of raspberries that can put things in perspective.

  7. You teach through your writing. I appreciate the life lessons shared. We learn things and transition to meet the need to the moment. I’m thankful you have Andy and he reflects, support, encourages, loves right along with you and so glad he saw your need for the raspberries. You weave so much into your writing.

  8. Amazing how the little things from our early years come to mind with just a smell or sight of red raspberries. Your post brought back memories from my childhood (which has been many years ago). Keep enjoying those raspberries be they red or black!

  9. Oh, yes, raspberries! My Auntie Mary would buy them, not my family–too expensive. She always gave me one or two. They were special. Now I buy a whole package for myself but they’re still an indulgence! I see so many little things in your life writings that become oh, so special. Cherish those, for sure. I think the those little things save our lives.

  10. Red raspberries, my favorite. Reading this story, my favorite. You stack words and connect hearts. It’s what you do.

  11. Your writing is so beautiful. Your stories always show the mix of the pain and the sweetness, just like in life, and show a new way to examine our own lives. Such truth here.

  12. My. daughter was visiting recently and she bought raspberries at Whole Foods just because they were there. And when she left, she left them for me in the fridge. I can’t imagine having a daughter that doesn’t appreciate and claim all the love you have to give. I thought from the title that this post might be different, but once again, your story tears me up. Can I just say, It’s not fair!

  13. Your last sentence, “There are some things we can’t fix, no matter how much we long to do so. Sometimes the thing to do is just buy the raspberries.” brought tears to my eyes. What an important lesson.

    You are incredibly skilled at weaving life lessons into small moments. Thank you for inviting us to see the rasperry picking (and other routines) through your eyes.

  14. Your writing is so poignant as you weave these threads of your life together. Memories and lessons learned on each unique life journey are rarely expressed so skillfully. You share the beauty, the pain and then acceptance of what can or can not be done. It is moving.

  15. Ruth – on this Mother’s Day weekend, I wish you bowls and bowls of beautiful raspberries – black and red – with whipped cream on top and a cup of lovely hot tea. You have given so much to so many – THANK YOU!

  16. Oh Ruth, I loved this.

    And I loved your words at the end –

    “I’ve learned to buy the raspberries. There are some things we can’t fix, no matter how much we long to do so. Sometimes the thing to do is just buy the raspberries.”

  17. Love this … such great mental images, and a wonderful truth and message … We can learnt to buy raspberries! 😀 We can choose and learn to do things that are a blessing. I am trying to do that with little bursts of creativity. Mine would say, “I’m learning to just make art, write, create. No matter what is going on, sometimes the thing to do is sit, breathe, and create.”

    Thanks! Have a lovely raspberry blessed day.

  18. Love this story of a husband who brought you the raspberries and offered sweet encouragement and celebration: ““Stephanie is in bed; this is special.”
    And telling your stories is a gift to those who are walking similar journeys. I think of my sister’s challenges when she adopted three brothers. i wish the two of you could have known each other.