The thing about them, the most important thing at least, is that they keep coming back, no matter how much abuse is heaped on them, no matter how many bad things happen to them. Okay, they aren't indestructible, but they are pretty hardy little warriors. And another really important thing is that they have a terrific self-defense system in place, and no matter how careful you are, they are going to fend you off if you attack, and you will be left bleeding: every time, without fail, no matter what precautions you take. It is also worth noting that they propagate profusely, and spread like a wildfire.
So if you plant them properly, you should get delicious fruit every other year from an individual plant. Plant enough of them, and you should be able to get fruit every year from half of them, while the other half of the plants die back, and send out new shoots all over the place.
I was thinking about her as I dug the plants up with my neighbor in her backyard. My neighbor does not like any kind of berry, and considers the plants a nuisance, so she offered as many as I wanted. I know that she likes them though, and I imagined her joy at being able to get fresh raspberries now that Spring has finally arrived. And I continued thinking about her as I carefully loaded each plant into the wheelbarrow, one by one, doing my level best not to get them all tangled up with each other, since the leaves of one plant are prone to get snagged by the thorns of another. She loves precision, and attention to detail, and I was being very precise, and very attentive as I worked. She would be proud of me, I thought: proud of my careful, precise work, and happy that all the plants were saved, to produce more berries.
I was still thinking of her as I arrived at the new site for the plants. I carefully removed each plant from the wheelbarrow, and laid it in its own spot on the grass, and managed to do so with only a couple of them getting tangled up with each other. In all, I discovered that I had come away with 29 plants, which would constitute a fine patch when I was done. This would make her very happy, I thought, as I turned on my MP4 player, and some early Pink Floyd began to fill my ears.
I knew that I wanted a proper patch, not just sticking the plants into the ground, willy-nilly, and that I would have to remove the grass completely, and then till the soil down at least four or five inches, to maximize the success of the transplantation. They did not require that much preparation of their new home, but I was on a mission to do a perfect job of it, and I decided to do the whole thing with small hand tools rather than the long-handled tiller or spade. As Roger Waters wailed on his guitar, I reached for my hand trowel, and sat down in the grass to begin my work.
As I sunk the trowel under the first chunk of grass, it made a grainy, sliding sound against the earth that I heard even through the music coming out of my earbuds, which surprised me. And I suddenly realized that I was no longer thinking of her, the source of so much joy in my heart, the one that I love. I realized, as the trowel repeated its journey into the ground each time, that I had begun thinking about you, the one who caused me such misery, such ghastly emotions, emotions that I had done my best to bury with my old life, the one that I left behind when I came here. I remembered how you had left me to die, how you had treated me so miserably, how you took from me, how you robbed me of everything that I had, leaving me nearly penniless, leaving me brokenhearted, leaving me to scramble to save my life, to make a new life. And not surprisingly, the more I relived the Massacre of '08, the more I began to feel the rage inside me begin to boil, begin to grow, begin to consume me, begin to take over my mind and my body both.
And with each successive plunge of the trowel into the earth, I imagined that the trowel had become an assault knife, much like the one that I carry under the seat of my car, just for emergencies, with a long carbon steel blade and a serrated back edge. It is not the knife of a hunter, or a sportsman of any kind. It is the kind of knife that trained killers carry, designed to do maximum damage with a minimum of effort: the first plunge of it, up to the hilt, properly placed, does the job. I know this knife well, just like a trained sniper has only one friend: his rifle. In the same way, in a life-or-death situation, I have only one friend: my knife.
And so as I plunged the trowel into the ground hundreds of times, I relived all the horrors that you visited on me, with each thrust. In minutes, I was soaked with sweat, and my heart was pounding, but I had much more to do, and so I ignored the signs of my exertion, and continued, plunging the trowel in to the dirt. With each thrust, I felt your blood splatter flying toward me, and the knife had its way with your flesh. I heard your screams, only a couple before you were dead, and then I felt as the knife struck bone, and laughed, covered in your blood, as I heard the sound of your ribs cracking under the force of my blows. My hand became warm from your exsanguination, as the trowel continued to till the earth, deeper, deeper, deeper, loosening everything in its path, ripping everything from its moorings. I continued to move along, finding more area to work on, pushing both the trowel and myself really hard, working steadily, but with great force with each push, and I realized that I had still quite a way to go before I had a bed big enough for all of the plants. I continued to move along, finding more of your lifeless body to stab, pushing both the knife and myself really hard, working steadily, but with great force with each push, and I realized that I had still quite a way to go before I had completely pulverized every inch of you. I shuddered with excited fury as I felt the knife finally crack open your skull, and felt the sloppy wetness of your brain tissue strike me in the face. I wiped my face off, and surveyed my work: a good, proper bed for the patch, with plenty of room for all the plants to thrive, and propagate.
So that's why, deep down, I had such reservations about us meeting for coffee to talk about things, and to this day, I wish that I had just not shown up. But when I think about how lush and full those plants are going to be, with such thorough preparation of the soil, and with such excellent fertilizer, well, that's when I think about her again, and thankfully, not about you.
June 24, 2009.
Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.