Wow, time really got away on me this summer - it must have been that month long road trip that threw us for a loop. Here it is "back to school" time already and some of the leaves are turning color, the duck and geese babies are adult size and the part timers on the lake are getting ready to take out their docks. Due to the erratic and downright cold summer weather, the garden produce is about a month late and that adds to the confusion too. ( Today it got up to 94 degrees so who knows what is in store for us - unpredictable is a good way to describe our Wisconsin weather.).........I thought I'd tell about one of my favorite crops - the ruby red, fragile, gloriously tasty raspberry. The bushes we planted about four years ago are producing nicely now and I've been picking a couple of quarts of raspberries every two days for a couple of weeks. We eat them with cereal, with milk and mostly in the seedless jam that I make. I love the little red orbs but every picking brings my mind back to years ago when a friend and I would go to the nearby forests and together pick wild raspberries. Each of us had small children so we'd rise early and get out to the woods before our husbands had to be at work at 7:45. Then we'd rush home with our bounty and tend to the homemaker/mom things till the next foraging day. It was fun to pick in the early morning forest air and share stories and friendship on the trips to and fro. My friend was Karin and an exceptional person in my eyes. She was kind and brilliant and the mother of four children, three girls and a boy. Karin came over from her German homeland when she was 19. She spoke English fluently with a little German accent, also spoke French and of course, German. She had an incredible knowledge of botany and seemed to know every species of plant and tree and weed. While she was homemaking, she earned a degree in education and then a job at the local high school as a German and French teacher. The students loved Frau Karin and she showered them with her special kind of attention and affection. She rode her bicycle the five mile trip to and from her teaching job and one bright morning, a driver with the rising sun glaring in his eyes, did not see Karin on the highway shoulder and drove right over her as a school bus passed in the accompanying lane. Karin was killed instantly and some of the children were witnesses. She was in her mid forties and it still hurts to think of the loss. There have just been a few funerals in my life where I just could not attend because I knew that my sobbing would be impossible to stop, and Karin's was one of them. Raspberries remind me of Karin but they also remind me of the good times we had.