What Brings Me Joy
“Hey Clover, how would you like to pick raspberries today?” Clover is eating a bowl of cereal, and I am drinking coffee. “Where would we pick them, mama?” “There is a raspberry patch down the road. Thought it could be a new experience for us.” “Sure, mama,” Clover answers.
We have been riding out the pandemic at our log cabin in northern Michigan since March.
The mid-July sun was high, the blue sky bright and friendly. The buzz, buzz of bees was our soundtrack as we plucked the tender fruit from its bushes. Willy, our faithful, furry companion, looping in and out of the rows of raspberries, was enjoying the fruit himself.
“I never realized that the best raspberries hide in the back of the bush, mama,” Clover said.
She is absolutely right. The ones up front are blistered and overripe, but the ones in the back are perfection -- ruby red beads clustered together in harmony.
The patch is not crowded, but there are more people here than we have seen in three months. All of us rambling through the bushes, safely distanced from each other, placing the fruit in our pale green baskets. There is an honor box at the front of the farm -- 5 dollars for a medium-sized box, 10 dollars for a large one. We pick and delicately plop our crimson fruit. Our baskets beginning to overflow with berries, we eat the ones on top before they can fall to the ground, our hands stained a happy bright pink.
On our drive home, we make plans for our raspberries. Certainly a pie, perhaps some jam, or maybe we leave them as they are. A quick wash and then a bowl full of berries to eat as we please, whenever we feel like it.
Clover is eight and a half years old. She is tall and blond and very much her own solid self. Her heart is open and resilient. We spend so much time together. So much togetherness. She is my most favorite human. My deepest, truest love.
“I will never look at a raspberry the same way again,” my daughter tells me. Days like these are the silver linings of the pandemic. Time moves slower, and after months of sequestering, we have found our rhythm. From the cacophony of bird sounds in the early morning and late evening to the glimpse of a darting fox’s white tail to the bounce of the baby bunnies that picnicked on our front lawn this spring to the wild lilac and lilies that grow freely and bountifully all over these woods, we are living a life 180 degrees from the one we left behind in Los Angeles. Our days in LA were filled with structure and organized chaos. Phone calls, work responsibilities, skateboarding lessons, and basketball games. Here at the lake, Clover and I have planted a vegetable garden. We rescued three chicks who have thankfully turned to hens. They will start laying eggs in about a month. If I find myself driving too fast on the M22, I slow down, not because of the cops, but because of the deer.
And so, and so, and so, that was almost a year ago. Back home in Los Angeles, summer beckons once again. I can smell the night-blooming jasmine on my evening walks. Bougainvillea bursts in all its splendor. Garden roses and gardenias, white and crisp as the moon, bloom in my yard. The days begin to move swiftly. Emails dinging, the phone ringing, texts pinging, plans to be made. The froth of unlived life calling out to me. I reach back in my mind’s eye to the quiet calm of that golden raspberry summer day. Clover, Willy, and I and our basket full of berries. Nowhere to be except right where we were.
Post by Natasha Gregson Wagner
Friends of Robinson Gardens member
Daughter of Natalie Wood
Coconut Cold Brew
From Suzanne Rheinstein
- One bottle of Erewhon Fresh Coconut Mylk
- An equal amount of boxed organic coconut milk
- An equal bottle of cold-brewed decaf coffee essence mixed with water
I like to use decaf Luzianne coffee with chicory, mail-ordered from New Orleans. I use the Toddy coffee maker method of cold brew.
- Mix it up and serve over ice
A Garden Reimagined …
In the summer of 1990, we moved into a mid-century house, built in 1955, and at that time, it was professionally landscaped. Like most properties, each owner, over the ensuing 35 years, added or subtracted plants and hardscape to suit their families’ needs. From the original landscape plans, we interpreted the design intent and compared it to the existing landscape. There was a serious need to reimagine a new garden to serve our young family with two children, needing a place to play and explore.
We began the process of reimagining the garden by making an inventory of the elements that were additive to the modern style house. In the rear garden, we retained the original circuitous lines of the patio and lawn, including the concrete curbed planting beds -- while the front garden, a black top driveway with a donut shaped concrete patio, was deemed seriously out of sync with what we imagined the modern house deserved. We literally erased the entire front garden and started anew.
Up first, we designed a two-tone grey colored concrete driveway and its supporting element, a circular two-tiered fountain. The fountain includes a viewing patio that looks back to the house. The shape of the driveway, defined by its edges, is fluid and evokes the feel of a young stream, while slate tile rays run through the drive and viewing patio diagonally to delineate the rectangular feel of the lot. These changes alone worked wonderfully to refocus the space. It felt less rectangular and more organic in shape, spacious and inviting.
Next up, we planted multi-trunk crape myrtle trees in a curving line across the front of the lot. To reiterate that curve, we planted a curving ‘Little Ollie’ hedge. This furthered the concept of fluidity and modernism. These elements serve to guide the visitor to the front door while providing visual interest with varied forms, shapes, and textures. After painting the house and trim three tones of gray, the serene mood of the space was furthered by adding water-wise plants with silver and grey foliage, blooming with white flowers. In order to create visual motion, tangerine-colored geraniums were sequenced in the garden to carry the eye to the front door, which echoes the tangerine flower color.
By contrast, the rear garden has a functional lawn, ringed by a curbed planting bed, planted with semi-tropical plants. The foliage and flower colors echo and complement the living room interior décor. The garden and the interior of the house appear seamless when viewed through the sixteen-foot wall of glass in the living room. The consciously planned blending of the color palette between the interior and exterior spaces effectively plays the organic off the inorganic, the inanimate off the animate. This is one of my favorite design themes to create interest and visual contrast in almost every garden.