Gooseberries, squirrels, and so much more


Iler Girls anxiously await the gooseberry tart

So, as I am writing my blog post, I am anxiously waiting for the timer to go off so I can take out my gooseberry tart from the oven. Two years ago, I had no idea what a gooseberry tasted like. Then, my dear friend gave me a clipping and said “Plant it, but be careful. It will take over your yard.” Last year, at this time, I longingly looked at the gooseberry plant that was budding with flowers, it looked promising. It was growing, it was green, and there were a lot of possibilities.


Then, ol Buddy, the squirrel came along, and annihilated my crop. I was so angry with that little guy. I had been nursing that plant for months, only to find the casings without a beautiful, decadent orange berry.


Fast forward, four months later, my gooseberry plant almost didn’t survive the bobcat fire. The ash, the wind, and the soot clung to the leaves of the berry plant. I looked sadly at the vines as each day they wilted. I didn’t know if the gooseberry plant had what it took to withstand the harsh environment it had been all of a sudden transplanted into. I would dust off the leaves, cut back some of the dead overhang, hoping that new growth would spring up somewhere.

This took us into December, and I was pretty certain that if the gooseberry plant made it, it would definitely not bear fruit this year.


I transferred my time and energy to other parts of the garden. Like harvesting avocados from one tree that produced abundantly for months. I don’t think we ever had seen so many avocados in such an odd time of year. I decided to plant different flower bulbs that I had never tried before, like dahlia bulbs, narcissus, and ranunculus bulbs. I even tried my hand at planting my own thistle. My vegetable garden in the back was in need of a spring clean up as well. So, I replanted the entire salad bowl garden along with my cruciferous vegetables. To my surprise, everything began to sprout and Buddy the squirrel was pretty much leaving my new seedlings alone.


Every now and then, I would glance at the gooseberry plant in the orchard. It was growing, it had turned from a dirty brown back to a green. It did have flowers but I was doubtful. I continued to not pay attention to the plant so much that I wouldn’t be disappointed if the outcome wasn’t what I was expecting.


And then it happened. One afternoon, my girls were playing by the fruit trees, and they noticed the casing on a gooseberry was almost a tan color. It was plump and it definitely had something wrapped in it. We nervously picked the fruit, and to our amazement, there was our first, full size gooseberry. It was tangy, sweet, and tart all wrapped up into one tiny little berry.

It was delicious! I felt satisfied with my one berry.


But, the girls were not. They wanted to find these golden treasures. They started to lift up the vines, and there was not one, not ten, but multiple groups of ten berries on a single vine. We got bowls and started to harvest our crop. How did we not see all of these clusters of berries growing on this plant? After we filled a huge bowl full of these berries, I said “Well we better learn how to make a gooseberry tart.”


Prepping the gooseberries for a sweet treat.

I wonder if we all can relate with the gooseberry plant. There are different aspects in our life when the timing is off. I know that I have to always remind myself that my pace or my desires, might not be what is in store for me. Job placement, relationships, home renovations, goodbye to a friend, or hello to a new family member, they are all part of seasons for us. The gooseberry plant took me through many seasons. . . So many that I had almost given up on that good natured treat. I think we easily give up on a goal, a project, or a relationship when the wait seems too long for us. Sometimes we just have to do the dreadful thing and wait.


When Scott and I were first married, I had a raised vegetable garden in the backyard. I had a garden placard that I hung to the side of Scott’s workshop that said “Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.


15 years later, I remind myself that this quote still rings true. It rings true to my garden, to my relationships, to a multitude of life moments. Because you never know when an unexpected piece of fruit will be placed in front of you.


Scott and Erin Iler embrace the saying "Adopt the pace of nature. . . Her secret is patience."


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