A memory came to my mind as we picked, one from five or six summers back when Todd and I went exploring one afternoon out in the countryside near Sebago Lake in Maine. On a back road we found an old farmhouse, its white paint peeling and front porch sagging. It was perched on top of a hill with a hand painted sign out front that said RASPBERRIES. Well, we are suckers for handmade signs and fresh fruit both, so we pulled around to the back of the house, parked, and walked down a muddy path, following a painted arrow that pointed to a tumble-down shed. Inside were two girls at a small card table with a cigar box of money. We paid them a few bucks, they handed us a couple of green quart containers, and then they directed us toward another path that led a bit farther up the hill from the shed.
The sun was beaming, but it wasn't a hot day--maybe seventy-five degrees and dry. As we made our way through the tall raspberry bushes, we heard a few other people picking and chatting quietly. Other than their voices, the only sounds were bees and a light breeze through the trees that bordered the raspberry patch. The bushes were loaded with deep red berries, so perfectly ripe that they almost fell into our hands. As we picked (and ate) our share, I thought, "Life doesn't get better than this."
Just at that moment, someone--we never knew who--opened one of the farmhouse windows, and the strains of "Ode to Joy" poured from the window out over the field. It turned out that life could get even better than what I'd imagined. It was one of the best hours of my life, finding that farmhouse and that berry patch, but the best thing about that hour is that I've carried it with me ever since. Many hours of my life in the last few years have been much less than perfect, but there was always this memory to go back to when I needed it.
No one played "Ode to Joy" when we picked berries this weekend, but the sun was shining again, a breeze was blowing, and the berries and each other's company were, as you can see, all the joy we needed.
What is one of your happiest moments? What made it so?