I’ve never cared for artificial holidays like New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the sentiment behind them, especially if they really are modern versions of traditional natural holidays.

For example, Thanksgiving Day is really the United States’ way to celebrate a harvest festival. It’s just that I prefer natural holidays that mark the rhythm of the seasons, like the solstices and the equinoxes. Even better are the natural holidays that come to mark the seasons of my personal life. For me, a new year used to begin every year on my birthday. This is certainly a natural enough and personal enough holiday to mark a literal new year. But, now that I’m gardening, my new year begins with the harvesting of my black raspberries. While I am able, in the San Francisco Bay Area, to harvest year-round, these berries mark the beginning of my summer season, summer crops and summer harvests.

Thus, although I’m currently harvesting broccoli, beet greens, and chard, it’s the berries that mark the beginning of summer and the beginning of my year. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has to do with the nature of the berries themselves. This variety of berry doesn’t produce fruit all in one year, but instead follows a two-year cycle. The first year it puts out canes (vines) and only early in the second year, around March, does it put out blossoms. These then produce ripe fruit around May. I think it’s this two-year cycle that ties the years together that I like. Or, maybe, it’s just that the berries are so sweet and juicy.

This year I’m expecting a bumper crop of berries. Last year the canes grew densely for a total length of 35 feet, the longest by far that I’ve ever had. Regular irrigation this spring has helped, too. So, as I celebrate the beginning of my new year, I wish you your own Happy New Year.

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