Red Raspberries ~ 1000 Words

In case you’ve noticed, I’m not writing everyday with Megan! Just the photo’s that inspire me the most. Which I guess shouldn’t come as any surprise that it’s the non-city-scapes that draw me mind and imagination the most. So without further ado, here’s todays photo prompt. {Word count 1040}

berries

Picture Source: unsplash.com

As the last day of summer drew to a close, the sun slowly sinking to the horizon like an elegant lady bowing, the last of the raspberries sat on the wooden slabs of the weathered porch. The sound of the nightlife beginning to buzz, mixing with the distant sounds of the low moans of the coal boats on the Mississippi. Soon the fireflies would be out, and it was her favorite time of the day. Slowly she gathered the raspberries into an old tin bowl, her gnarled hands bend with arthritis and age.  Noticing that a few raspberries had been crushed, she lifted her fingers and stared at the red stains now there. Drifting back to another summer’s end, years before.

*****

“Hattie! Hattie Anne, come and look!” The bold and loud voice of her brother calling her name, excitement ringing loudly in his tones.

Running up to him, she looked at him. Not one for many words, he just pointed. Looking in the direction of his imperial finger, she gasped.

“It’s the last of the raspberries!! Maybe Mama can make us some raspberry tarts, if we gather enough!”

Without another word, the two children set about gathering the ripened sweet red globes. Her brother ran to get a bucket to put them into, while she continued to pick. And eat a few. Oh, how sweet and tangy the warm berries were on her tongue, the juice a burst of Summer in her mouth. She grabbed some more, and gobbled them down, red juice now trickling down her chin, leaving a pink trail. Her fingers also showing the signs of a recent berry massacre.  Hearing the sounds of her brother returning, she hurriedly wiped away the traces of her impromptu snack.

“Why Hattie, you’ve been at the berries. Mama will be upset with you!” The soft, somewhat indignant older brother knows best voice coming from behind her.

Turning she just smiled, and grabbed the bucket from his hands, dumping her spoils. When the bucket was filled to nearly the brim, the two carried it back to their house. Leaving it at the kitchen door, they scampered off to wash up for supper.

*****

A deep sigh, and soft chuckle filled the old woman as she remembered the times with her brother. So many of them, and now…with Albert gone, she was the only one to remember those times. That proud and boisterous boy brother. Turning to take her raspberries into her kitchen, she shook her head, muttering to herself, “Hattie Anne, always in the brain feathers. Time to make these berries a tart. Like Mama…”

Pausing, Hattie looked out of the bay windows in her old family home. The smell of raspberry tarts filled her memory, she could almost taste the tarts, fresh from the oven. Just like Mama’s.

****

“Mama, is this right? This much sugar?” A beautiful, feminine voice asking for the help of her mother.  She turned her head, when no answer came to her, and saw her Mama at the bay window, overlooking the river that passes by. A far off gaze on her face, a soft smile on her lips. Her Mama was in another world, altogether.

“Mama…” she softly calls to her, not wanting to startle her.

“Mmm, yes Hattie?” The distance still in her eyes, turning to look at her daughter.

“The sugar Mama…is this enough?” Hattie, always patient, waiting for the answer.

“Oh, yes dear, that’s plenty.” Walking over to the island, the two coppery redheads bent to make a delicious raspberry tart for supper. Soft laughter, womanly banter and two hearts joining together in the doing and sharing of the kitchen work.

*****

Turning from that bay window of memories, Hattie settled about making a tart for her son and his wife. Soon the smell of ripe berries, sugar and dough mixed in the air, making a beautiful symphony of smells.  Once the tart was in the oven, Hattie took a cup of her favorite tea, and stepped out of the back door, to the swing gently swaying there. This swing overlooked the apple orchards and pond her Daddy had made years ago. The sounds of night beetles and crickets sang in the air, comforting her as they always did. Nature was her private joy, her secret source of rest. Though she was sure it was that secret to those who knew her.  Kicking the swing in motion, she drank from her tea cup, with it’s gold edging, red birds and ivory background. Another thing of memory and fondness. Maybe another day, she’d think about this cup, and it’s companions.

****

On that day, there were many who came to her funeral, many who’d mentioned her raspberry tarts, her fondness for watching the river and drinking tea. Always her hands had been moving, and creating. Always, they were giving. In her diary, they found letters to her children, her grandchildren and her deceased husband. Her oldest son decided that they shouldn’t be opened right away, though later the curiosity got to him.  In the privacy of his room, with his wife there beside him, he held the letters exchanged between his Mom and Pop.

“She’d want you to open them, honey. She knew you’d be the one who did.” The gentle sureness of his bride of 20 years, encouraging him.

Nodding, he thumbed through the letters, finding the ones earliest dated, opening it, his hands shaking suddenly.

Dearest Hattie,

Thank you for the delicious warm raspberry tart. I so enjoyed our stroll to gather those ripe berries and seeing you bake the tart was like watching a ballet in the kitchen. I will dream of the red fruit, and of you, my love. I couldn’t have asked for a better send off, to college. I will miss you, though we will see each other soon.

Love,

Theodore.

Tears glistening in his eyes, he smiled and said, “Mama was famous for those tarts.”

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