Monday, May 9, 2011


(Sisters Gathering Raspberries & Roses, Summer, Ole Henrik Olrik, 1875, Art

Some days life is sweeter than others.

That special sort of sweetness came Bob's way during our stay at the "Das Tyrol" in Vienna.

It happened one sunny morning in the hotel's breakfast room.

Bob rose from his chair at our table-for-two and glanced at the bountiful pastry sideboard.

Soft, flaky croissants the size of small cars greeted his hungry eyes.

Slices of warm, crusty peasant bread, carefully layered in a rustic basket, met his gaze.

A scrumptious-looking blueberry breakfast cake - dusted in snowy powdered sugar - towered over the lavish display.

As did an array of the most delectable bottled jams ever collected on that side of the Atlantic.

All of the usual suspects were present and accounted for: peach, strawberry, blueberry, grape, apricot, orange marmalade and cherry.

But it was the jar of raspberry jam that ultimately caught his attention.

He scooped a few spoonfuls onto a plate and brought it back to our table.

After smothering his warm croissant with the deep burgundy colored jam, he slipped a generous corner of the pastry into his mouth.

Then came Bob's mind-boggling statement:

"This jam tastes exactly like my mother's."

I had never heard those words fall from his lips at any time during our 41 years together.

He had my undivided attention.

I quickly say, "Let me have a taste."

Bob drops a generous spoonful onto my waiting tongue.

"Oh, my stars! It really does!" I quickly exclaim.

Then we get busy.

Bob jumps up and brings the jar of jam to our table.

"Is there a dot-com address on the label?" I ask.

"There is,"  Bob answers matter-of-factly.

I say, "We can see if it's possible to order a few jars of this jam after we get home."

"Yes. But they might not ship to the states," Bob replies.

"They might not ship internationally but it's not going to hurt to try," I counter.

"I guess we can look into it," Bob says.

"Hey," I tell Bob, "maybe some of the food shops around here stock this jam."

Bob says, "Maybe."

That night we traipse over to the local grocery emporium.

We want to pick up some Viennese goodies to take home to the kiddos.

But that task is going to come after we pull to a halt in the jam aisle.

Our eyes carefully scan the fruit-laced selections.

Nothing on the first shelf.

It's a no go on the second shelf as well.

Maybe the third shelf will be the charm.

(I'm starting to worry.)

"There it is!!!" I shriek to Bob.

"You're right," Bob states as he reads the label.

He lifts a jar of the raspberry jam from the shelf and places it in the basket.

"You're only going to get ONE???" I ask incredulously.

Bob and the kids know well my ironclad rule: " ALWAYS BUY TWO OF EVERYTHING."

Because what if the first item is ruined, stolen, or lost?

What would you do without that precious back-up item patiently waiting behind your closet doors for its moment in the sun?

Bob immediately reaches for a second jar, saying, "We don't have room to pack any more than this."

(I don't LIKE buying only two jars of jam but I'll live with it.)

Back in the day, Margaret's raspberries were to die for.

Those luscious plump orbs of juicy sweetness......everyone and I do mean - EVERYONE! - loved them.

Freshly snatched from their ripened bushes, Margaret's raspberries were especially delicious covered with sweet cream.

No added sugar required.

Those bumpy berries did require something though.

They required work.

And lots of it.

Margaret, husband, Ted, and their flock of five children - Ted Jr., LaRee, Carolyn, Bob and Kim - performed those labors whenever the raspberries were ready.

Thorns were the real culprits in the raspberry patch.

The rascally raspberries liked to hide in the middle of the bushes.

Getting stuck was all part of the hazardous and - painful - job.

Eventually, though, these dedicated workers enjoyed the fruits of their labors.

So did the hangers-on like myself.

Margaret's raspberries.

Slathered in their sweet, creamy goodness.

Oh, to be able to indulge in those darlings again!

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