Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Raspberries - Post 1 of the "Picking" Series

As a child, I believed my father to be a super-mad-scientist-genius. Not only did he wear glasses and resemble the classic nerd of media presentation, but he was an accountant and used a lot of fancy calculators/computers/machines with buttons. He was also capable of driving a car, tractor and running a lawn mower while occasionally reading science fiction (not at the same time). Who was I to doubt his mechanical abilities?

In days of yore, my parents went through a brief period of gardening euphoria. The chief produce of this period was our field of raspberries. They consumed our entire garden space, and were a convenient snack source for most of the summer. Every once in a while, at the request of my mother, a concentrated raspberry gathering was initiated. While picking random berries for immediate consumption never was difficult, picking berries to be placed in buckets for “later” was not as rewarding. Plus, those bushes had prickles.

You can therefore imagine my delight when my father announced that he was going to make us a “raspberry picker.” Immediately, visions of robot minions filled my head. They would take on the task of finding berries (always a time-consuming project), picking the right specimens and presenting them to my mother. It was perfect, most of all because robots, being made of metal, would be impervious to the prickles. Here is an illustration of the event as no photographs remain to document the occasion:

When the day finally arrived for construction/unveiling of the new prototype, my father summoned me to the garage. I excitedly scanned the area for gears, metal sheeting and wires, but there were none to be found. I didn’t even see any power tools or welding equipment. Instead, my father pulled a box-cutter out of his pocket and walked over to our garbage area. I then watched in astonishment as he picked up an empty plastic gallon milk jug and proceeded to cut a hole in the top side opposite the handle. I was struck dumb in confusion. It was all over in a matter of seconds and I found myself presented with the finished product.

My first thought was that this was to be perhaps a holding mechanism for bolts or nails. I fiercely hoped that this was not the entirety of the construction phase. Possibly sensing my confusion, my father informed me that this was the fabulous contraption itself, the raspberry picker. I remained doubtful that this piece of plastic would successfully be able to locate and pick anything other than dust or rain, but I followed my father out to the garden to witness a demonstration. To my astonishment, my father proceeded to manually pick berries and deposit them into the newly altered container. After about 30 seconds of this procedure, my disappointment solidified. I had been duped. I somehow managed to make it through one round of picking before I had to creep away and mourn the loss of my gardening robot minion army.

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