When I was a kid my grandma and grandad had, among other treats, a string of raspberry plants in their garden. In the summer I would regularly run out to check whether the pale, bobbly fruits had turned red. When they were squishy and ruby tinted I was allowed to pick them.
My grandma was always concerned that we’d consume some sinister parasite if we ate them straight from the plant, so she insisted we let them sit in a bowl of water for an hour or so before eating them. Of course, I sneaked a few when she wasn’t looking. Still warm from the sun they were worth risking a bug for. I used to practically let them dissolve on my tongue so she didn’t see me chewing.
We always ate them with Cornish ice cream. There was something about that sweet, almost too rich cream against the faintly sharp raspberries that seemed sensational. I used to like when the ice cream started to melt and mix with the escaped fruit juice to make its own raspberry ripple.
I also loved that we were eating something that was growing just an hour earlier. I may have been small, but I appreciated the excitement of growing something and then being able to eat it right from the plant. We’ll get to giddiness of the rather successful watermelon my grandad grew in his greenhouse on another day.
My grandparents eventually left that house to move into the valleys. They had a smaller garden and didn’t grow as much, but my grandma did have a few raspberry sticks in the corner. Grandad died a few years ago and Grandma was reunited with him seven months ago. Tomorrow would have been her birthday.
Yesterday my dad went to check on her house while we continue to try selling it. In the corner of the garden the raspberry plant was groaning with the weight of the berries clinging to its shoots. He picked them, brought them home and left them to sit in a bowl of water.
Last night’s dessert was some of my grandma’s raspberries with Cornish clotted-cream ice cream. It still tasted exactly the same way. I still mashed a few berries into the ice cream to make a pink swirl. It was a bowlful of beautiful memories. I think I might have some more tonight.