The sun warms my arms, crisps my hair and settles onto my shoulders. I rub my aching lower back. My hands land on my thirty-nine week pregnant belly, and stay there in the age old soon-to-be-a-Mama pose.
Do you see that one right there, Kayli? The deep lilt of my husband asking my daughter a question touches my ears.
Can I pick it? Can I? Four year old Kayli demands. A perfectly ripe raspberry is, indeed, an urgent matter.
My eldest and my husband lean into each other. Enveloped in hazy heat, hair melding, knees pressing into soft dirt with only a picking basket between them. Its greenness quickly disappearing under a mountain of plump raspberries.
My hands still holding my belly, my eyes grace Chloe, who is just two-weeks-away from becoming my middle child. Further down the row, she’s on her bottom, fully immersed in that heat and that dirt. Never mind the white in her cotton dress.
She reaches into, under, and over the raspberry bush. She has a rhythm and a plan: every raspberry is hers. There’s nothing in her basket besides leftover juiciness.
Lift, pull, drop, pick back up, eat, lick fingers, repeat.
My heart hurts for her baby-ness and how short lived it will be.
I walk toward her, each hard-to-take step a reminder: We are five, she is not the smallest anymore.
At the end of the row she peeks at me and I’m stilled by her eyes. They’re just so good! Is it okay? They ask.
Smiling yes, I sit down next to her, only briefly wondering how I’ll get back up again.
Chloe and I pick berries side by side. Our rhythm is matched, but with differing goals. I fill, she eats.
Within moments I feel the cool shade of Jason’s sixth sense that I need help behind me. I overflow with the sweet knowing that my world is right here as Kayli tries to slip into my lap.
We untangle, emerge from the dust and the berries, and find a new row to find our rhythm within.
I walk with my girls on either side of me; each claiming a hand. Jason’s stride matches ours as he pulls the large wagon only carrying four small containers of raspberries. His soft steps contrast the wagon’s loud squeaks.
My heart squeaks, too. How will I know whose hand to hold? Why would I stretch the shape of this foursome that we’ve become?
Our fingers pick. Our faces sun-soak. Our legs ache. Our arms tire.
We trudge back to the wagon and take in our treasures. Three overflowing baskets and one bare one greet our eyes.
Chloe splays her berry stained all gone fingers. They say I’m still-the-baby-of-the-family right now. And I savor every teeny tiny raspberry tinted inch of them.