Raspberries in the Rain

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Nogawa Grass

In recent weeks my garden has overgrown so much that the soil is no longer visible under all the fat ferns tumbling over themselves to get the best light. After last year’s ravaging of the trees in my garden by my landlord I decided to no longer make an effort to control or bring order to anything growing in the garden and just let whatever wilderness remains in this city to do its own thing. Dokudami weed, which is actually quite pretty and whose flowers resemble a constellation floating on a dark green sea, has dominated most of the space, while a few of the plants I brought in are still holding their own.

One of these is the spindly raspberry bush I planted four years ago. This year is the first year that it has produced enough berries to fill my cupped hand and their bright red globules brighten up the clouds of green proliferating all around them. Yesterday afternoon, while a steady rain pattered among the leaves of the fatsia that had grown twice as tall as I am, I waded out among the plants, rain water drenching my sandaled feet, and knelt next to the raspberry bush, plucking berries from the branches and, only rudimentarily checking for bugs, popping them into my mouth. There was something about the droplets of rain on the berries, the pushing of my fingers through the wet leaves, and the quiet rush of rain all around me that held me still. I let the rain soak my back and run down my spine. For once with no US military planes thundering by overhead I could lift my nose to the sky and smell the washing away of dust and toil. The clouds seemed to slide by on grey silk sashes, in a serenity so high and effortless that the garden seemed merely a hesitant footfall amidst a pervading tranquility. I watched a hairy caterpillar munching at the base of the one of the berries, her head buried in the pit she had eaten out, and undoubtedly as ebullient about her banquet as I was about the sweet perfume of raspberry juice spilling down my fingertips. In the shadows of the fatsia a brown-eared bulbul, who had been visiting my garden fence since the start of spring, huddled under one of the broad leaves, his head scrunched down into his shoulders and feathers puffed, watching me with only mild interest. It was mid-afternoon, after all, and right about tea time and siesta.

I’ve been surprised by the settling of my soul these last few weeks. Without a job, on the verge of divorce, finally getting my diabetes under control after two weeks of really scary symptoms, I never expected to feel like one of those lone droplets released from a leaf above and falling into an undisturbed pool… first shaking up those rings, but then merging with the rest of the stillness. I keep waking in the middle of night and listening to the sound of the spring rain outside my bedroom window, mingled with the whisper of my wife’s sad breathing, and wondering how the moments held together without splintering. And yet I still catch a glimpse of the moon riding the clouds or feel the surprise of flavor between my teeth when biting into a raspberry, and I remember that it all works together somehow. All of it. Like the middle of a story still being told.

8 Responses

  1. I stumbled across this site by accident tonight. Your writing and photography are very refreshing. I didn’t have time to read it all, but I shall look forward to doing so. Thanks.

  2. Hello Kate. I’m glad that my words have left some modicum of movement. I’ve come a long way from the angry posts of my early years of blogging, when it seemed the war was everything. It was like being burned by a huge conflagration, with nothing much about anger left worth saying. Now I’m finding that it is the sphere that I dwell within every day that I can grasp and still be moved by. And my little attempts to fit inside the mouth of the wide world. This blog is like a small cave looking out on a vast wilderness, with little forays out along the edge, kicking stones. And a chance to examine methods for further paring away my preoccupation with myself.

  3. How wonderful to hear your voice again, butuki, and such a peaceful and almost joyful voice too. You have highlit the simple beauty right in one’s own yard and how it can provide sensuous delight and inspiration in the middle of one’s day. I’m glad that you are feeling better, in spite of troubles. I wish you well, there in the middle of your unfolding story! Keep us posted on how it continues…

  4. Good to see you back again, B. This post is simply beautiful; a wonderful mix of sadness and hope, detail and breadth of vision. The photo, too, is excellent, and it was a good call to choose B&W.

    I do hope the settling of your soul continues and opportunities come your way in abundance. (I will answer your question, but it’s a hard one and I’d like to respond accurately. It might even be worth a post.)

    Kia kaha, e hoa.

  5. Glad to hear from you…

    And this post reminds me of the words of Candide: “Il faut cultiver son jardin.” We have to tend our own gardens.

  6. the metaphors in this post are priceless. your words are a gift and a reminder for us to sink down into our own lives despite all the issues and the distractions of the day ….into both the beauty and the tragedy of it all. and no matter how confusing or painful any of it is, it really is the only life that we have; the only clay we have to mold. this post reminds me where true peace begins.

    i hope one day your words will find themselves between the covers of a book. maybe a memoir or collection of essays. bearing witness …..

    thank you,
    angel

  7. i stumbled in too, just about the time i was rethinking ~words~ realizing that we use words for many purposes. i just left a friend who uses words to attack me, and hold me distant. and all the while i thought we were using words to join, to explain, and to reach agreement. so just what do we use words for anyway in the world of blogging? it sounds like you once used words to express your grief and your frustration, about living in a world at war. in this post, your words are like lily pads floating on surface of a still pond.

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