Raspberries and 100 degrees

I remember begging.

Begging,

pleading,

wheedling.

Hot tears, blonde curls, big blue eyes.

And the reluctant “Yes” that he finally spoke.

So I rode my bike to the patch, so excited to be 13 with a job….picking raspberries at 7 cents/pint.  oh, and all I could eat…

The patch sat in the bright sun and black dirt, plump red raspberry dots on brambly bushes with sticky stickers, ready and waiting.

It was so fun, those first few days of hot skin sunburning and mouth full of warm fresh berries.  Picking and filling the pints, proud of quick, fast fingers.

The heat began in earnest on day three, beating and relentless on bare shoulders already scorched and sore, The stickers felt prickly, and fingers didn’t fly as easily.  100 degrees by noon.

Mrs. Farmer was screeching, urging us to work harder, faster, with less eating.

Day after day, dropping my bike to go out in the patch.  Hot sun, tired.  No longer eager.  The raspberries began to taste sour.

Begging again…this time to quit.

Please, dad.  Please.

Tears.

More tears.  So many more tears.

Please let me quit.

And his steady gaze.  Looking straight into me.

“No, you may not quit.”

“You will finish what you started.”

I couldn’t be in the presence of a raspberry for years.  Years.

But I didn’t quit.

I saw it through, that 13th summer.