No, I'm not writing about rap music (though coincidentally I did learn on my drive today that my 6 year-old son clearly understands the distinction between rap and rock, and that he has a fierce preference for the latter, perhaps more pronounced since his adventure at The Hideout barbecue for Bloodshot Record's anniversary last night.) Really, I want to ponder on deft jam, or rather, the deft hand one must use when picking raspberries. I've loved this berry's delicate flavor since first encountering an amazing framboise dessert at a "fancy dinner" with my parents in Newport Beach. And I have admired, sometimes from afar, the prices at our ginormous Whole Foods. But today I discovered a different kind of value in this fruit.
After picking apples (and surviving a don't-let-me-do-that-again Haunted House) at Jollay Orchards, we decided to try our hand at picking what was left of the raspberries. (Full disclosure would tell you that I was actually trying my shaky hand and that I did jump when another berry-bush limb climbed up the back of my shirt to say "boo".) Picking apples is manly sport- climb up a ladder and grab that ripe fruit with a full, muscular hand. But raspberry picking is an altogether different experience. Pull too hard and the very acceleration from stem to basket yields a berry-bloody mush. Once I established my technique, however, my green papier-mache basket runneth over. If you're willing to hunch down and lift up the prickly, low-lying stems you can hit the jackpot. But don't get too zealous or your prizes won't even make it to the basket (well, many of them didn't make it to the basket, but that's because I needed to test them and make sure their tasty quality rendered them worthy of the patient thigh-burn workout required for the process.) The deft hand and yoga-like balance required to select and pick these ripe raspberries was another "SLOW" road-sign....which makes at least two weeks in a row of the universe throwing me this hint.
Earlier this week at the workshop we were remarking on hard-walkers (if you live in a multi-level home or apartment, you probably know if you have one above you or not.) Is someone a hard-walker because they are in a hurry? Because they are just heavier, working harder against gravity? Or because, rather than be present in the moment and their bodies, they are flopping along to the their next task? Think about how you're sitting as you read this- are you holding your body in a way that engages your muscles (and maybe thereby prevents some sort of backache later?) When you approach a chair to sit, do you flop on in, or do you control the bend of your legs and the contact of your bum with the seat? A smart and inspiring man once showed me the power of capturing this presence, and I have to admit that I lose that presence too often. He taught me to look for cues that I could use to remind me to breathe, find center, relax, repeat. And then off I went rushing to my next deadline. So thank you, raspberries, for showing me today the calming power of a deft hand in preparation for a def jam.