Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Picking Raspberries: Vancouver 1966

I think it was Mike Gust who found the raspberry patch. I'm not sure how, because the raspberries grew on a hillside quite a ways from our neighborhood. We rode our bikes to go get them.
It was Oldest Brother, Second Oldest Brother, mike Gust and I that went, with me being the little kid. And it did seem--to my mind then and even to my recollection now--like a very long trip to go gather the berries. We had taken pails and jumped on our bikes and rode and rode, along roadsides with cars and past intersections with cars and to the hillside where we dropped our bikes into the dirt along the roadside and made our way into the tangle of sticker-vine raspberry bushes. And there were tons of them, big and ripe, and we quickly filled our buckets. We also got scratches. Then we rode all the way back to our house on Enid Avenue.
We compared our gatherings, rinsed them all with water from our hose, sat out on the picnic table and removed any extra stems or leaves or thorns, then someone went inside and got bowls and the carton of milk and we ate raspberries with milk in the sun in our back yard.
But the thing is, I doubt that we ever even asked permission to go do this. In those days, we just went out of the house on weekends or summer days and did whatever crossed our minds, whatever we were capable of with our limited resources and unlimited imagination. So, we had that freedom. And, I wonder, how many towns are there any more that would just let raspberries grow wild along a hillside? How many kids have a childhood where they could just take off and find such a treasure without being driven there, without supervision, without having to pay some entry fee and sign some disclosure form to pick raspberries?
Ah. I sound like an old man. But with each generation, with each crowding of our world and development of our world, much is lost. I'm sure my parents saw it--simpler times, more free times--when comparing their childhoods to ours, just as I see it comparing mine to my children's. But things are gained as well: health and safety, other adventures not available. Still, there must be or have been a point where something becomes irretrievably lost, where the new urban/urbane childhood cannot match the one where nature was still prominent, where the need for safety has undermined the innocence and freedom of yore . . .
(Oh, just using a word like "yore" makes me feel old, makes me feel like a complaining codger.)
But, this has always been such. My complaints/thoughts are much much older than I am, older than this country I live in. Better to just remember that day in Vancouver, Washington, when we picked wild raspberries and ate them with milk.

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