Raspberry Season

We got a call from Filibuster on the answering machine this morning: She can’t retrieve voice mails from her cell phone.  Worse, the ATM refuses to dispense any money to her.  Apparently her PIN is too long.  Filibuster is a great believer in strong passwords.
I call the bank and they ask me how long PINs are supposed to be in Europe and I tell them I really don’t know: the last time I was in Europe there were no debit cards.  They place me on hold.  They transfer me twice.  They tell me to go to a branch after the weekend is over.  They tell me there’s no way they can change her PIN for me.  They give me a number for Filibuster to call, but I cannot reach her and if I leave her a voice mail with the number she won’t be able to get to it. 
Somehow, I manage to change her pin online and I call her again, but of course, she doesn’t pick up.  I send my first-ever text message and hope that she receives it.  In the middle of all this, my husband yells at Squints because he’s making too much noise, but the truth is, he’s worried about his daughter and there’s nothing he can do to help her.
* * *
The temperatures are in the seventies today.  It’s overcast and rain threatens.  It’s a bit muggy but there’s a slight breeze.   A perfect day for the opening of raspberry season.    
Only two people are in the field when we arrive.  Their car is parked in an open spot between rows.  It has Florida plates and I wonder whether this husband and wife are snowbirds moved home for the summer.  The husband wears shorts and a white work shirt and has about fifteen raspberries to his credit.  Farther down the row, his wife wears a knee brace. 
“It’s all picked over,” she tells me, gesturing to the bushes full of hard berries.  “You have to bend over.”  Her voice is almost indignant.  “They missed everything underneath.”
And she’s right.  I kneel before a bush and find a trove of berries, ripe and perfect. 
Raspberries don’t snap when you pick them.  If they’re ripe, they fall right off right into your hand at the slightest of touches.  But the ones that cling to the bush, even if they look ready, need a bit more time.  You can wrestle them from the branch; you can force them off, but they’ll be hard and bitter.
In another field behind us, families glean the last of the strawberries and I think about the twenty quarts I have in the freezer.  Have I set enough by?  Do I need more for the winter?  “I’m putting these right in the freezer,” I tell the kids, gesturing to the raspberries.  Two and a half quarts isn’t nearly enough.
“Six forty-nine,” the cashier says.
My husband swipes his debit card.  “Don’t you want to have a little tonight, enjoy the fruits of our labor?” 
I weaken and he stops at the grocery store and we spend another six bucks on a movie and ice cream, about as much as we spent this morning on sixty pet “waste disposal bags” straight from China.
With each purchase, we casually swipe our debit cards and I wonder if my daughter is able to get to her money yet.
Finally, Filibuster calls.  Two people in her group have been pick-pocketed.  Some of the girls got lost today.  But she’s able to get to her money and she’s safe and for the first time in a couple of days, I can relax and I realize that being a parent is a lot like being a raspberry plant: You have to know when to hold on tight, despite the pulling.  And, ultimately, when the time is right, you have to let go.

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Raspberry Season

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Raspberry Season

We got a call from Filibuster on the answering machine this morning: She can’t retrieve voice mails from her cell phone.  Worse, the ATM refuses to dispense any money to her.  Apparently her PIN is too long.  Filibuster is a great believer in strong passwords.
I call the bank and they ask me how long PINs are supposed to be in Europe and I tell them I really don’t know: the last time I was in Europe there were no debit cards.  They place me on hold.  They transfer me twice.  They tell me to go to a branch after the weekend is over.  They tell me there’s no way they can change her PIN for me.  They give me a number for Filibuster to call, but I cannot reach her and if I leave her a voice mail with the number she won’t be able to get to it. 
Somehow, I manage to change her pin online and I call her again, but of course, she doesn’t pick up.  I send my first-ever text message and hope that she receives it.  In the middle of all this, my husband yells at Squints because he’s making too much noise, but the truth is, he’s worried about his daughter and there’s nothing he can do to help her.
* * *
The temperatures are in the seventies today.  It’s overcast and rain threatens.  It’s a bit muggy but there’s a slight breeze.   A perfect day for the opening of raspberry season.    
Only two people are in the field when we arrive.  Their car is parked in an open spot between rows.  It has Florida plates and I wonder whether this husband and wife are snowbirds moved home for the summer.  The husband wears shorts and a white work shirt and has about fifteen raspberries to his credit.  Farther down the row, his wife wears a knee brace. 
“It’s all picked over,” she tells me, gesturing to the bushes full of hard berries.  “You have to bend over.”  Her voice is almost indignant.  “They missed everything underneath.”
And she’s right.  I kneel before a bush and find a trove of berries, ripe and perfect. 
Raspberries don’t snap when you pick them.  If they’re ripe, they fall right off right into your hand at the slightest of touches.  But the ones that cling to the bush, even if they look ready, need a bit more time.  You can wrestle them from the branch; you can force them off, but they’ll be hard and bitter.
In another field behind us, families glean the last of the strawberries and I think about the twenty quarts I have in the freezer.  Have I set enough by?  Do I need more for the winter?  “I’m putting these right in the freezer,” I tell the kids, gesturing to the raspberries.  Two and a half quarts isn’t nearly enough.
“Six forty-nine,” the cashier says.
My husband swipes his debit card.  “Don’t you want to have a little tonight, enjoy the fruits of our labor?” 
I weaken and he stops at the grocery store and we spend another six bucks on a movie and ice cream, about as much as we spent this morning on sixty pet “waste disposal bags” straight from China.
With each purchase, we casually swipe our debit cards and I wonder if my daughter is able to get to her money yet.
Finally, Filibuster calls.  Two people in her group have been pick-pocketed.  Some of the girls got lost today.  But she’s able to get to her money and she’s safe and for the first time in a couple of days, I can relax and I realize that being a parent is a lot like being a raspberry plant: You have to know when to hold on tight, despite the pulling.  And, ultimately, when the time is right, you have to let go.

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3 Comments:

At June 12, 2011 at 3:47 PM , Anonymous Carol Apple said...

Hello Kelly. Visiting for the first time (member of She Writes). I am relieved that you heard from Filibuster and that she is safe and able to get money. Just as I am relieved every time my 18-year-old son gets home in the car. Great story - I love the raspberry metaphor!

 
At June 12, 2011 at 4:31 PM , Anonymous Cheryl P. said...

Oh, Kelly, I am so feeling your anxiety..followed by relief. I had told you that we sent our youngest to go to 2 semesters at the University of Amsterdam and a summer of travel after those semesters. I remember the immediate problems with the money (that also got worked out) and then the unreliable connection to the Internet. We also found a solution to that. But it is nerve wracking to have them at that distance. I will tell you though that it is the greatest gift to offer your child this experience. Our Aaron is 36 now and still we see a global awareness in him, a sense of self and where he fits into the world. He was a strong personality (in a good way) before he went but seeing how other cultures live was truly an education that can't be duplicated from a book or movie.

 
At June 13, 2011 at 8:36 AM , Anonymous Bella said...

Kelly, indeed there is nothing that pulls the rug out from under a mother's feet faster than thinking her kids might be in trouble! Having undergone the same experience with my own daughter, I can relate. In my case, my daughter was in another State, unable to use her ATM card, and with only a few bucks in her wallet. It was a nightmare, to say the least. I'm glad Filibuster is okay and finally able to make withdrawals! Like Carol, love the raspberry metaphor! :)

 

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