Dear Thing That Ate My Raspberry Bush,
Last year I bought a dormant thornless black raspberry plant. I followed the directions on the package, and I planted that stick even though it was hard to imagine that it would ever become something vibrant and lively. I carried water out to that little stick. I covered it on cold nights. And before long, reddish-green leaves emerged.
The plant stayed small all of last summer, but it was alive. It had promise. I would check on it nearly daily, and I could almost taste the black raspberries we would enjoy from the plant once it had grown and spread.
This spring, leaves emerged right away, and the plant looked bigger and stronger than before. Maybe this would be the year we’d see the first blooms. Maybe we’d even get a berry or two.
Yesterday, when I went to check on my still-tender raspberry plant, I was thrilled to discover that it had doubled in size. It was still small enough that it would be a long time – probably another year or two – before there would be lots of raspberries. But, I consider myself a perennial gardener. I love most dearly the plants that have longer growing seasons or take years to establish. I could wait.
This afternoon, I walked out to see if my little raspberry plant needed some water, and I discovered that all the leaves and new branches were gone. They had been eaten.
I understand that the leaves probably looked broad and healthy. The stems were still green and tender.
I understand that you were probably hungry, and that the leaves and shoots were just too scrumptious to pass up.
Look, Thing That Ate My Raspberry Bush, I get it. It’s hard to wait. The tender leaves and branches were right there. How could you pass them by? I get it. I do.
But, I also know that if you had been able to wait, the raspberry bush would have thrived. There would’ve been more than enough berries for my little family, for the birds, and plenty of leaves for you. If you had been able to wait, we could have all enjoyed them. As it is, you enjoyed them for a fleeting moment. The enjoyment is over. And now there’s a bare stick where my plant filled with promise was just this morning.
Maybe it’s ridiculous for me to write a letter to you, Thing. I am guessing you are a deer or a rabbit or something equally adorable. I also know that you certainly can’t read and will never see these words, but I also wanted to write to you because the loss of my plant has me thinking about all the times something like this happens and we don’t take a moment to mourn the loss for what it is.
You see, Thing, just like my little, dormant stick turned plant with promise, there are so many times where – in our haste for the instant gratification – we destroy little joys rather than wait for the joys that will feed us all.
We destroy food.
All because they are there for the taking. All because we can’t wait. All because it is hard work to nurture and wonder. All because we want it now.
So, Thing That Ate My Raspberry Bush, I get it. I do. I also know that you’ve reminded me to be more mindful. One step onto certain kinds of soil can destroy decades and centuries of ecosystems and habitats. One hurtful word can destroy a dream. One nibble can kill a bush that could have fed and delighted many.
For now, I will take some fencing and surround my traumatized plant. I will see if I can nurse it back to health. I will wait, and watch, and provide water and nurture. Perhaps, it will grow again.