My new neighbor came over to introduce herself when I was picking gooseberries. She's missing a cat. Haven't seen it, but sure, I'll keep an eye out for it. I offered her gooseberries, but I think she was confused by them. I thought about making her a gooseberry tart in neighborly good will, but, well, you know, that would take effort. Isn't the thought enough?
I brought the gooseberries and a colander of currants inside, then saw the deer eating my crab apples a few feet from the kitchen window. "Scat! Get out!!" He leisurely moved behind the garage. I went back to my berries and he came back. "Scat! They're not even ripe!" Stupid deer. My brother said he's beautiful. Sure, majestic even -- but he eats everything. Then the squirrel spiraled down the apple trunk and into the garden and I launched into the murderous thoughts of summer with venison fantasies. I want a scarecrow with rocket-propelled missiles.
I like to garden, in a lazy way. I put in seeds, watch the miracle of life, then eat the bountiful harvest. Maybe sit and weed the garden a couple of times to make myself feel like I'm responsible and tidy about it all. Maybe weed it a lot if I have stuff to think about. I put all these berries in the freezer so I can put them in chocolate cakes, because you know, if chocolate cake has organic berries, it becomes health food.
I haven't made much progress on the dining room floor this week. I took a walk in the park, obsessed about work, started reading a book about cults... You know how all this stuff goes. I could make a lot more progress if someone would just pay my bills and leave me time for baking gooseberry tarts and creating.
When I was a kid, gooseberries were extra special because they were rare. There were only 3 bushes of them in my pilfering range. Now that I think of it, I was taught early to steal. I ate berries, climbed orchards... whatever I wanted, and could get away with taking, was fair game. It was standard, expected behavior from children in an area of summer homes and unattended gardens. Children expected to get sworn at and occasionally threatened with firearms. Bus stop conversations included tips for access to especially tasty treats while we waited to go to school.
We stole from adults we liked least. Our ethics were nuanced, and had nothing to do with stuff we learned at church. The adrenaline of possible consequences was part of the joy. I was taught to be a risk-taker and rewarded with pie if I brought my pilfering home.
I just wandered into this bit of memory, but now that I'm thinking about it I have to wonder about how robbing summer gardens steered my life. I feel a little conflicted, but mostly remember the sweet taste of berries on a hot summer day and laughter in the chase.