THE RASPBERRY FARM
The synchronicity of events can often be astounding. As with prayer, it is often answered in the way you would least expect. I never imagined fruit would be the answer to mine.
Last summer we were facing a move which was going to cost more than we could afford. On top of the move my husband had the cost of a major exhibition coming up and that always had to come first. I was worried. My husband, always the optimist said to me, “You of little faith. It will be alright, it will happen, we’ll have the money, you’ll see.”
I wished I could share his optimism, but I couldn’t help my overwhelming feeling of anxiety.
A month before the Removal Van was due to come the telephone rang.
“It’s Cheryl, are you home to visitors? I have a friend here who would like to meet you and Michael.” Cheryl was a potter who lived down the road.
“Yes, come and have coffee, I’ve just made a cake.”
They duly arrived and Cheryl introduced her friend, Gaye.
“I just happened to be in the Optician’s shop and I saw that wonderful painting in the reception room. Cheryl told me she knew the artist and I couldn’t wait to meet you and see your other works. I am an artist too,” she said to my husband, “I would love to buy one of yours.”
My heart raced, this could be what we needed.
After much deliberation she chose two works, but said she would have to call again in a couple of weeks to pay for them. By that time she would have earned enough from her casual fruit picking job.
“I am so tired,” she said, “we start picking at 5.00 a.m. and work until about 2.00 p.m.”
I shuddered at the thought of such an early start.
Two weeks later she called to pick up the paintings. I gave her coffee and we talked.
“How is the raspberry picking going?” I said.
“Good, but we can’t get enough pickers. Two people didn’t show up last week and that means we must work faster or lose the berries. If they become overripe they are useless and are sold for jam.”
“Perhaps I could help,” I said dubiously, never imagining she would agree.
“Could you?” she answered eagerly. “I’ll ask the boss to ring you.”
The next day I found myself employed. At daybreak I set out in old jeans and a large sunhat for the berry farm. I was given a child’s pram which supported a tray of boxes. Wearing a long sleeve shirt and mittens to stop the prickles, I pushed the pram down to the paddock where I joined a row of pickers. There I was taught how to select the ripest raspberries which I placed in boxes as fast as I could.
By the end of three weeks, I had picked through hot sun and rain, and developed a camaraderie with the other workers and my friendly employers who wanted me to repeat the exercise next fruit season. Moving day was exceptionally hot, but I was so fit from my outdoor work, I stood up to the pressure better than anyone on the day.
After the sale of the paintings to Gaye and the money I earned from the fruit, the cost of the move was covered to the last cent. Thanks be to God.
I would never have dreamed I would be a fruit picker.
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