Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Raspberry Picking is a Lot Like Pregnancy

This blog was originally posted a few years back. As I watch the finches in my backyard skitter in and out of my own raspberry bushes, it made me think of this, though; and I thought it was worth a repost.  Enjoy!

OK, I'll admit that, even for the most intelligent person, the title of this blog may sound a bit confusing. It all started with a trip to the local u-pick farm...

Every year I go to a local farm to pick raspberries. I started out taking my children because I was of the mindset that it's a good idea to take them out and have them experience that sort of thing. Over the years, the whining in the fields and the whining that even precedes the trip has reached a fevered pitch. I remind them that, just like the story of the Little Red Hen, if they don't help, they don't get to partake in the bounty. The response I normally get is, "But, I don't even like raspberries, so who cares?" I've given up on every making them into champion raspberry pickers so this year I went alone.

The farm I go to is only about a mile from where I grew up. It's a great place, and one would never guess that a booming metropolis is a mere 15 minutes away. It was a warm day but more tolerable than the 90+ degree weather we had the week prior. I got my buckets, was told what area of the farm was open to picking that day and set out on my journey. I settled on a row to head down and began. For the first several feet, the pickings were miserable. Little, itty bitty berries that were either not ripe yet or overripe and there weren't even very many of those. "Great," I thought, "this is what it's going to be like. I'll work and work and still not get anything to shout about."

As I progressed down the row, conditions began to get slightly better. My experience was still not ideal but it was at least getting better. There were people all around in different rows and that was about all I could hear - voices of men, women, and children in at least three different languages. I continued to pick as I imagined who these people were; what their personal stories were.

As I persistently made my way down the row, my bucket slowly filling up, the berries became more prolific and closer to the perfection I was looking for. If you've ever picked raspberries, you know, too, that sometimes the best berries aren't in plain sight. So, being an experienced raspberry picker, I was, at times, head first halfway into the vines searching out the best of what they had to offer. I thought, "I must be a real sight," but then realized that I didn't hear voices anymore. Instead, I could hear the swallows and finches calling to each other. There were two hawks circling and calling. There was a tractor somewhere in the distance. The geese at the neighboring farm were honking. I breathed deep and could smell the sweet scent of hay. It was peaceful and I suddenly felt very centered and present and in tune with what was going on around me.

It was then that it occurred to me that this was lot like pregnancy. You start out with a thought in your head of how great and perfect the journey will be like only to find that maybe it's not what you expected. The beginning is not fully packed with rewards and it seems there are outside voices around you constantly. But, as you move through the journey, it begins to get better and, the further you go, the more the outside noise slips away. You begin to hear your own inner voice and become in tune with yourself. You become present. At then end, you can look back on the journey and see how far you've really come and, as a special prize, there's a baby.

I was just getting close to finishing up my picking, listening to a finch making a little "pip" next to me occasionally, when I turned and looked at where I had started. Wow! I had made more progress than I had thought and had a great bounty to show for it (nearly 10 pounds!). It was then, that I got my prize. I pulled my head out of some vines, straightened up and, just as I was reaching forward to grab a few berries, saw them right smack in front of me...babies! My finch friend had apparently been waiting for me to move along so she could feed her nestful of four brand new baby birds! The afternoon really couldn't have ended any better.

I took a few quick photos and grabbed my buckets to begin the walk back to the car. As I got closer, the voices around me began to rise in volume again and drown out the songs of the birds and the rumble of the tractor. I got in the car and began driving home. Yes, raspberry picking is a lot like pregnancy. A journey that is not without effort but a journey that is sweet and full of wonderful surprises.

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