I’m Berry Grateful

My husband and I had the most wonderful bike ride through the Skagit Valley. The clouds cleared and it was sunny most of the 62 miles. We marveled at how picturesque it was through the flat, mostly farmland.

Our ride took us past farm after farm growing a variety of crops including potatoes, wheat, silage, cabbage, squash, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and corn. Farming is a foreign world to us so it was really interesting seeing the various farm implements, barns, and other farming accoutrement.

We passed by one farm growing raspberries and the bushes were brimming with ripe berries. I didn’t see anyone picking them and there was acre after acre of the red berries. I fretted that perhaps there was a shortage of laborers to pick the fruit. As we continued up the road we noticed a couple of machines in a different raspberry field. We decided to pull into the field to get a closer look at the machines to ascertain what they were.

As we got closer we noticed the contraptions were harvesting machines, driven by laborers. They had brush like things that shook the raspberry bushes making the ripe berries fall onto conveyor belts and up into big drums. Because the drums held so many raspberries we figured these raspberries were going to be made into preserves. We saw one of the workers struggling to lift and move the full drum to replace it with an empty one. See one of the machines in action here.

raspberry picking machineWe tried to converse with the driver but he didn’t speak English. We both bemoaned the fact that we don’t speak Spanish. We wanted to ask him about the machines. Eric and I had always thought raspberries were hand picked, which would require a lot of people. It was really fascinating that a machine had been invented to pick the raspberries.

As we continued on our bike ride I felt much gratitude for the farmers who work so hard to grow our food. It is not an easy life farming and not necessarily a very lucrative one. I also felt a lot of gratitude for the laborers who pick our fruit and vegetables. They do backbreaking work for long hours, little pay and in often miserable conditions.

What does this have to do with etiquette? Directly, nothing, but being thankful feels good and is a wonderful way to live. What are you grateful for?

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Leila Anasazi on July 14, 2010 at 10:44 am

    As I girl I picked raspberries to earn some spending money. I think the fields were in Fall City, or thereabouts.

    We’d pick for awhile, filling shallow boxes with ripe berries. Every once in a while a supervisor would come by and do a “row check”–reviewing the bushes we had picked, making sure that we weren’t gathering only the “easy pickin’s”, and were getting the berries that were more difficult to reach. See, we were paid by volume, so it was tempting to breeze through the surface berries and not do a thorough picking.

    Nowadays, among my friends (who also picked raspberries as kids), when we are working on projects around the house and garden, every once in awhile we’ll call for a “row check!” As adults, a “row check” is not so much about accountability but is mostly a chance to linger and admire the progress we’ve made. But calling “row check” still evokes a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.

    Raspberries! So good.

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