Raspberry Rendezvous

Published by SantaFe.com
By Claudette Sutton

We go to the Salman Ranch almost every year. When our schedule allows, and frosts don't hit too early, a trip to Mora for raspberries is part of our New Mexico fall routine. If summer is about seizing the moment - peas and greens fresh from the garden; spontaneous picnics or trip to the pool - fall is about facing the future. A Santa Fe winter may not be as rough as New England's, but it takes some bracing just the same. A freezer neatly stacked with zipper-bags of chile, a few bags of raspberries, maybe a peach pie or two, gives a feeling, no matter how fleeting, that all's well in the world.

It was that kind of comfort we were chasing as well as berries, after dropping our son Ariel at the Albuquerque airport a few weeks ago, for his junior year at a university in Spain. Though I couldn't have imagined this a few years ago, it's true: the shock of empty nest really does ebb after the first time or two. By this round, I even admit to a sprinkling of relief in the potpourri of emotions as we hugged goodbye at curbside check-in. Watching him walk off to his gate, I had a moment's panic that the passport sticking out of his sweatshirt pocket would fall out somewhere over the ocean . . . but it's his responsibility now. Charles and I have our lives to reclaim.

Rather than head straight back to Santa Fe, we took a detour out to Mora for raspberries. The morning chill was lifting as we arrived. This wasn't been the best year for raspberries, we heard; hail storms did some damage early in the season, and light frosts had already nipped some of the vines.

But we got enough to fill three baskets, and a few Tremendous Mouthfuls along the way.

Little Sal and her mother drove home with food to can for next winter - a whole pail of blueberries and three more besides.

We drove the long way home over the mountains. The perfume of fresh berries wafted from the backseat of our car. Like Sal and her mom, we harvested not just food for the winter but a familiar, comforting act to guide us to the next page in our story.

I wish I could direct you to the Salman Ranch to pick your own berries, but their season ended with a hard frost soon after our visit. But if you've got another source for fresh raspberries, try this pie. It's magnificent fresh; it freezes well. If you're able to give it away, you're a better person than I.

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