Life on the 45th parallel has its advantages.  Summer days are almost sixteen hours. Every berry – black, blue, rasp- and straw- grow here as well as cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, and pears.  TChing contributor Robert Weminschner could make a different scrumptious dessert every day for fifty-three days! So, it was with Robert’s sense of adventure – and my handy flask of fresh-brewed Doke Black Fusion – that I headed into the raspberry patch a few weeks ago.  

I was the first customer, and the only person allowed to pick raspberries.  The weather was clear and hot, with Mt. Hood (in photo above) forming a breathtaking backdrop to the south. “I see you brought your tea,” the owner said as she pointed me to the row.

“Never leave home without it,” I walked from the fruit stand through the orchard.  Beautiful and serenely alone in my own raspberry universe. Seventy-five yards of raspberry vines, seven feet tall and seven feet thick.  Berries hung heavy and fragrant on the vines. Jam, Pie. Syrup. Tarts. Scones. Jam cookies. Filling. Custard. Shortbread. I planned menus and re-runs in my head of Robert’s recipes and luscious tea syrups. I listened to the peaceful country sounds of proud chickens, a cow calling a calf, dogs barking.  There was a screeching sound of some bird I couldn’t place some distance away but mostly relaxing, farm sounds. Soon, I had twelve pints of beautiful berries; time to take a break.

I found a grassy spot at the end of the row and pulled out my tea and PBJ.  I half- crouched, noticing thistles and nettles and stickseeds, tiny morning glories and even tinier dainty pinks.  Content, all was right with the world. I opened my flask of tea and took the first sip followed by a grateful gulp.

There is no phonetic rendition that can describe the shriek that erupted from directly behind me.  Like I had been shot from a spring, I catapulted into the air, my tea exploding from my cup like a fountain.  I swear I saw a rainbow in the arc. Then I came down right into a particularly thick collection of nettles, thistles, a rogue blackberry bramble, stickseeds and face to face with this incredibly beautiful blooming hen-and-chicks (photo above). I gasped out some words that grown women should not say as an enormous – from my vantage point of face-on-the-green – peacock strutted regally by, giving his tail feathers an indignant shake.

Stickseeds – tiny balls that stick to your hair, socks, shirt, jeans, and hat like velcro – covered me from head to toe.  I was grateful that the raspberries were out of the path of destruction, but I told that peacock he owed me a cup of tea. He gave me stinkeye as only a bird can.  I picked stickseeds out of my clothing for a good five minutes before I picked up the flask. Lucky Day, a good mouthful was left!

Next time, I will pack a spare flask in the car.  You never know.

Images provided and copyright held by author