Black Raspberry Memories
Hi there friends! Glad you could stop by today, I have a question for you. Have you ever just out of the blue seen something that triggers a flood of memories? That happened to me today and it took me way back to my childhood in New York State, to my Dad and summer and growing food, especially Black Raspberries.
I was out on my morning walk along the dirt road next to our house here in Bavaria when I spotted what looked to be some sort of berry growing wild alongside a fence. Upon closer inspection I saw they were nice, big, plump, juicy, sweet Blackberries ( wonder how do I know they were sweet?) so I hurried home across the pasture to get a bowl and start picking before #1- the Yellow Jackets discovered them and #2- the neighbors discovered them. I can be greedy like that at times especially when it comes to berries!
I was picking away when this image of my Dad came shooting right in front of me and I heard him say, “Clare, it’s 8 o’clock, aren’t those kids up yet? We have to get those Raspberries picked.” Among many other fruits and vegetables, my Dad grew Black Raspberries. Note I said BLACK Raspberries because that’s important. At least it’s important to me. Black Raspberries ripen in July in New York State. Yeppers, right smack dab in the middle of summer vacation for this 10 year old girl! Time to sleep in. Time to laugh and play all day with your friends. Well, not when you are Bill Castleberry’s daughter and not when there are Raspberries to pick! Any farmer will tell you that berries need to be picked before the sun dried the dew off them and they start to shrivel up. So that meant I was hustled out of bed and given a stack of quart baskets and sent out to the rows and rows of Black Raspberries. To my young eyes those rows looked endless! But it was a job any 10 year old could do and being a short little kid I didn’t have to bend over to look for the biggest and best hidden berries, I was already eye ball to berry with them. The thorns were not much fun and scratches were plentiful. So it went like this. One berry in the basket and one in my mouth. One in the basket and one in my mouth. I loved popping the tiny seeds with my teeth. I loved the juicy sweet deliciousness of those small little shiny black gems. Nothing tastes as wonderful as fresh picked Black Raspberries. Certainly not Red Raspberries nor do plain old Blackberries. I knew my Mom would be in the house making batch after batch of Black Raspberry Jam which to this day is my favorite fruit spread in the whole wide world! Fresh from the stove we’d slather jam on warm homemade bread. No snack was ever better! Mom would freeze the berries for wintertime goodies in quart sized containers just right for pie making. At lunch there would be a bowl of Black Raspberries drenched in canned milk and sugar which was a much loved treat! Every summer Mom would make at least one fresh Black Raspberry pie and a fresh Black Raspberry Cobbler too!
Eventually, friends would wander over to our house and then the Raspberry wars would begin with us kids throwing berries across the tops of the bushes aiming to get someone purple with berry juice! Can you imagine the berries that we wasted? Black Raspberries today cost their weight in Gold, if you can even find them! Back then Dad put them out on a table at the roadside and they sold for 45 cents a quart. Yes indeed, times have changed!
Did I suffer mightily from having to work my childhood summer vacations? Heck no. If I did, would I be standing in front of a patch of berries today wishing with all my heart that my Dad really and truly was standing there outside my bedroom window saying, “Clare, it’s 8 o’clock, aren’t those kids up yet?”
Journey on, my friends. Journey on.