We had to pick the raspberries before the planes came. Soaking the whole mountain side in it’s toxic spray. The planes where a government funded project aiming at keeping the weeds down so that the valuable pines could grow tall, straight and fast. That’s were money was. Exporting long, soft from their fast growth, planks all over the world. State owned of course. Like everything back then.
We never knew the exact date they would arrive, so each day that wrapped up without them showing like a swarm of mosquitos on the horizon ended with an exhale stuffed with hope. There would be a new chance tomorrow. And maybe we’d find the time then and come home with old yogurt containers brimming full of red desire. It wasn’t something we did to sell, to bring to the market, besides all local markets where gone by the early seventies having been replaced by more practical and hygienic supermarkets. No, we picked them to keep. For ourselves. We’d delight in a bowl full the first night and whatever was left would be put in the big freezer box humming away like a white whale in the basement. And there they would sit, always in the elevated tray on the right hand side as you opened the lid, in a few plastic containers each with a patch of tape on the lid with information written by my mother stating it’s content and the day it was put in there.
There were never a lot of berries, that wasn’t the point. It was what they represented to us that had meaning, that to this day can invoke the feeling of a very cold raspberry sitting in between my front teeth. I’d sneak down there, keeping the lights off so that my whereabouts would be a secret. I’d feel my way to the freezer box. Lifting the lid just enough to find the tray and grab a box. The room suddenly a cool blue from the light spilling out. Then dark again. I would open the box and take one, never more than one. I would then close my eyes and slowly bite into it and my head would explode into summer. Everything would turn red and possible. Happiness would lure behind images of tall grass getting played by the wind, endless days by the river. Mum and dad talking quietly in the kitchen, doors open to the patio on the back. The one dad built from logs discarded by the railroad, not knowing they where full of pesticides. Or maybe he knew but couldn’t afford to care since we were always short on money. Red and possible. Light nights and beautiful voices. I would let the juices spread over my tongue trying to make it last as long as possible. Eventually it would fade and either I would open my eyes or swallow and it would be gone. Surrounded by the damp cold and the dark corners ( where all unnamed things lived ) of the basement I would be right back in November, or February, even April on some particularly harsh winters. They were tiny morsels of hope. That’s what they were. The raspberries. Of summer and light of course. But also of a different kind of life. Of something better that I didn’t know but dreamed was possible. Far from the valley where we lived. Far from never ending winters, from shaking the wallet we kept in a kitchen drawer to see if something might be stuck in a crease somewhere, from waiting for parents that were always at work. Just far from. My hopes and dreams riding on the tiniest red, raspberry flavored current to a place made from sun, barbies, wall hung telephones, matching socks, two children families and soda streams.