When we moved into this rental last spring I found the raspberry plant burial ground my landlord had told me was on the property. On the west border of our backyard is a weathered, falling-down fence, at the base of which were knobs of raspberry plant roots that had been repeatedly mowed to the ground. I love raspberries and decided that I was going to cultivate those knobs. By August of 2010 I had weeded and fertilized and watched as 10 to 12 hearty canes, some up to 6 feet in height, enjoyed the Alaskan summer sun and flourished. I'm not a farmer and didn't know that raspberry plants don't flower and produce fruit their first year, and when my cousin's husband gently advised me that I wouldn't see fruit until this summer I was gravely disappointed.
Back then I was still taking the college prerequisites I needed to apply to a nursing program (worrying about that) and trying to find a job to keep me occupied during my second long dark Alaskan winter (worrying about that).
Winter came and with it snow that at times completely concealed my raspberry patch. I found a job and completed my prerequisites and applied to the nursing program, to which I was accepted. Spring came relatively early this year and shortly after the last patch of snow disappeared, tiny leaves appeared on last year's raspberry canes. I watered, fertilized, and weeded, and within a short period of time (thanks to those long Alaskan summer days) the canes were bushy and green. One day I was examining my crop and noted that there were what looked like tiny flowers opening on the plants. I rushed into the house and asked my husband to look at them and tell me what they were. He told me that they were blooms, and that those blooms would produce fruit. He's not a farmer, either, but he laughed at me when I looked surprised. "You mean they make flowers first?", I asked. That made him laugh even harder. I grew up in condos and have never paid attention to yards; in fact I mowed a lawn for the first time just weeks ago. How was I supposed to know?
After the flowers came tiny green raspberry-shaped objects. I waited. The sun shone and rain came.
For two consecutive mornings in a row I have eaten raspberries for breakfast. They are ruby red and sweet and delicious not only because raspberries are empirically delicious, but because I nurtured them a little and allowed them to grow.
What once were withered knobs are now healthy plants bearing rich fruit. Kinda like me. What once was a worn out alcoholic woman is a mid-middle aged nursing student embarking on longest-sought, most exciting journey of her life. As the rock group Queen put it:
"We are the champions, my friends. And we'll keep on fighting 'til the end...we are the champions of the world."
Just me and my little old raspberry bushes.