Cranberries Are My Love Language

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Once upon a time, a jazz musician married a horticulturist and she has been wheedling for him to dig her a cranberry bog ever since.

My logic is darn near irrefutable: he has a Bachelor’s degree in horticulture with an emphasis in small fruits (does fruit get smaller than a cranberry? I think no), we finally live in a boggy kind of place, and I would look stinking cute in my waders with one of those huge wooden rakes like in the Ocean Spray commercials. Also, it is the perfect fruit. Those of you who disagree with me and are planning to blither something about sourness and how you can’t eat it fresh off the plant should pull up a footstool and prepare to get schooled. Admitting you are wrong is excellent for the complexion.

I should know.

For reasons that are both practical and sad, you are only able to buy fresh cranberries during a short window in November, when the public relations people convince Americans that they need to have a bag in the fridge, a bag in the freezer or Thanksgiving won’t come. I am all for that sentiment, except that I think it should be true YEAR ROUND. Want to know what you can do with fresh cranberries? Everything!! They make beautiful garlands that stay chipper and bright for an eerily long time. Muffins, coffeecakes, scones, sauces, syrups, butters… shoot, I am drooling all over my keyboard. It is amazing to me that just as we are making the gentle journey into short days and grey skies, God brings this astounding pop of color and flavor into our lives.

Only an infinite, personal God could think up such magic.

Traditionally, cranberries do grow in a bog, like in the commercials, but on an ill-fated trip to Greyland, WA last fall, we learned that modern cranberry farming actually involves fields of these cute little plants (seriously. Even cranberry leaves are darling, with cheerful little red dots hiding beneath them like fairies hiding under tiny mushrooms) that are flooded through irrigation for the harvest. We were so excited to actually be within driving distance of the land of the cranberry (this tiny seaside town is one of the major producers of cranberries for Ocean Spray, as I understand it), that we chose an afternoon last autumn to make a family pilgrimage, visions of cranberries that would come home with us dancing in our heads.

It started well: we purchased hot apple cider to sip for the drive, which google claimed would take a paltry 1.5 hours, and started off in high spirits on Wednesday afternoon. We thought we were playing that age old brilliant homeschooler card, the one which entitles the bearers to go any fun place they want to when it is not packed because we are the best sort of anarchists — the domestic kind, the kind who set their own hours and relish the freedom. Should we pause here a moment to face hard facts? Yeah. I am literally the only person who assumes that planning a trip to a little cranberry town is tantamount to spending Labor Day at Disneyland. It never entered my mind that the place would possibly not be booming all week long… much less that it would not be open at all.

3 hours later (I’ll get you, google. And your little dog too…), we finally made it to Greyland amidst such a thick curtain of pouring rain that the town could have been named for the weather. And absolutely nothing was open. Cranberry stands? Shutters down. Historic cranberry museum? Better luck next time, bucko. Don’t even get me started on the Mermaid Museum. It just makes me sad. There was a marital communication breakdown component to this venture which I am probably not far enough out from to explain yet. It’s only been a year. In the end, we found a bin of fresh cranberries in the grocery store, filled a bag and drove back home.

After that misadventure, the Beloved made contact with one of the elusive cranberry farmers (it’s all who you know) and with that contact, discovered that we could have fresh cranberries delivered to our doorstep. Enter into the joy of this week: a garbage sack full of cranberries, 25 pounds of them, tucked safely into a box, arrived in my kitchen. Let it begin, let it begin!!!!

Sweeping generalization time: people who don’t like cranberries are wrong.

Wait… that wasn’t what I meant to say…

People who don’t like cranberries usually hold this opinion because it is not an instant gratification berry. Cranberries require extra loving — they need to be cooked, they need sugar, they need time. Guess what: So does everything else in your life worth having.

The brightest, the most beautiful relationships in your life require time and investment, sweetness and gentling. The grace of God can take the most profound sack of bitter fruit and transform it into sweetness. Think on your marriage this week — how might the sweetness and light of the fruit of the Spirit change the pile of fruit you have been given? Hard fruit takes time to turn sweet. Bring Him the garbage sack full of your selfishness, of the grudges you have held, of the bitter thoughts you have kept trapped in plastic — leave them at His feet, watch and wait for Him to change hardness to glory, for Him to make everything beautiful in its time. Wade in — it’s cranberry season.

3 Responses

  1. Ellen
    | Reply

    “Gentling”…now that’s a new action verb for me.

    • barb
      | Reply

      Eh, I was feverish when I wrote this. It could be a fake. But I thought I recalled it being in common usage in the context of breaking unruly horses, as in Elizabeth Taylor sweated delicately in a fabulous outfit while gentling the mare.

      • Ellen
        | Reply

        LOL — even your quick replies are publishing worthy! Love it!

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