Late last summer, I discovered dozens of wild raspberry bushes in the woods behind our fence in the backyard. There were only a few stray berries left by that point, but Ezra and I did our best to harvest every last one we could. And I promised him that we'd pay better attention this year and maybe we'd get a few more.
We started out picking just what we could reach through or over our fence, since we were a little wary of all the bugs and thorny things back there.
(Of course we collected them in half of a Lego Star Wars planet. WTF else would you use?)
Then one day, after watching Ezra pine for the dozens and dozens of bright red berries just beyond our reach, I said screw it, and hoisted him (and then my own ass) up and over the fence.
Turns out, it's magic back there.
Yes, there are thorns and mosquitoes and uneven rock paths. There are prickly vines to duck under, that catch and snag your hair and clothing and refuse to let go. There's a small stream that fills your shoes with muddy water, if you take a bad step on the aforementioned rock path.
But there are raspberries, hundreds and hundreds of raspberries. We appear to be the only creatures -- human or otherwise -- interested in them.
Going Over The Fence is now a near-daily ritual. Each time we brought bigger bowls and got braver in our footing and less intimidated by the thorns. I watched Ezra duck and climb and strain to reach every possible berry he could spot, counting each one until inevitably losing track.
I really can't bring myself to care too much, not in the face of such pure childhood adventuring Over The Fence.
"This is the GREATEST. SUMMER. EVER!" Ezra bellowed after one particularly successful harvest. We were all filthy and sweaty and bruised and scraped up and itching from mosquito bites.
Ike came along that time and got his hair snagged by a thorny bush and cried a little, then quickly ducked down and breathlessly announced a new find: A small clearing full of wild blackberry bushes, not quite ripe yet. Once the raspberries are gone, we'll get to pick those.
"It's like our own secret garden!" Ezra said, whispering this time.
I wanted to make homemade raspberry yogurt popsicles...but everybody keeps eating the berries before I can save up enough.
We actually have two blackberry bushes right in our yard that are producing like gangbusters this year -- big, beautiful grocery-store-worthy berries without a thorn in sight. Ezra dutifully checks it for ripe berries with me every morning before breakfast, but...well, it isn't the same. It isn't as fun as the berries we find Over The Fence.
We could easily walk or ride our bikes around to the other side of the neighborhood and get to the woods that way. But...well, again, that just isn't the same either.
The best way to magic is Over The Fence.