Picking Berries and Making Memories: Sharing the Inspiration Behind Our New Collection of Generous Kitchen Towels and Sponge Cloths

Picking Berries and Making Memories: Sharing the Inspiration Behind Our New Collection of Generous Kitchen Towels and Sponge Cloths

July 25, 2022

A mood board of drawings and photographs of berries and berry picking

I don’t think we’re going to make it.
The tension in the minivan is rising as the minutes in traffic tick closer to the last ferry departure time of the day. I hear the squawking of seagulls and smell the heady mix of fish and fuel, and then I know I’ve survived our 8-hour pilgrimage in the third row of our minivan because I CAN SEE LAKE MICHIGAN! We drive onto the boat, and the spray from the wake is cold and sweet on my arms as we rumble over to the big island.

Good weather for island hopping?
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear,” my dad says. After a few days of bike rides, lazing in the hammock and digging on the beach, stormy-looking clouds threaten as we pack up the minivan again. This time we leave it in the parking lot and board the smaller ferry with just our backpacks. Rock Island has no cars on it, just dappled sunlight (the rain passed after all), quiet sandy paths and old low walls made of smooth white stones.

A photograph of the author Rachel Kroh on a ferry boat as a child
But will we find them?
The best part is when my mom and I pack a picnic lunch and head into the woods, swinging the pots from our camping cook set as we venture out to look for the wild raspberries. They are small but she knows just where to look. It turns out they are plentiful, so tart and sweet, and we slowly fill our pots, stopping to look at tiny flowers, mushrooms, and disappearing butterflies.

A photograph of the author and her mother on Rock Island
The world’s best cheesecake comes from a box.
We eat a lot along the way but we save enough to put on top of the no-bake dessert my mom manages to conjure in a speckled enamel pot. I hear the popping fire, feel the slippery warmth of my sleeping bag, relish whole days of lazing around with my usually busy parents.

A photograph of the author and her mother picking raspberries

Every time I eat a raspberry, the warmth and love from those summer memories comes right back with each sweet pucker of a mouthful. For our first collection of Generous Kitchen Towels, we started with the savory ingredients that make the kind of easy, fresh meals I look forward to eating and cooking the most - sweet corn, garden tomatoes, fresh bread. This summer we are adding four new designs that celebrate the sweet treats that can turn a meal into a celebration. Some of my favorite food-related memories with my family are about picking and eating fresh berries, and one of my favorite things about becoming a mom has been sharing our traditions with my boys. Since my mom passed away in 2019, it has also been a way for me to connect with her memory, and create a connection between her and my own kids.

A photography of the author's son picking blackberries
“Watch out for thorns, they’ll prick you!”
My first born son, who is two and a half and almost always running, "vroooooom"ing, or jumping is quietly kneeling next to me in the long grass, tucked into the shade of a trellis and concentrating hard.

“Who can find the most?”
We've made our way through the rows in this field with our basket, taking turns with the birds to pluck fat, warm blackberries off the vines. It's hot but the sweet smell of the juice on our fingers and the challenge of finding the blackest, ripest berries among the dark leaves and branches is lulling us into a rare quiet.

A photograph of the author and her son picking raspberries

“I think I'm going to eat them all!”
I feel his baby brother turn over and kick in my belly, woken by the sugar in the berries I've been snacking on. My mom, who passed away nine months ago, is with us in this field. I hear her voice as I explain why we only pick the ripe berries, feel her arms around me as I rub sunscreen into his. She'll be with us in the kitchen later as we give the berries a gentle bath in the sink and make a mess mixing batter for shortcake. Her birthday is tomorrow and I'm so grateful for these berries, these boys, these memories that will help us celebrate her.

A photograph of the author and her mother baking together

A photograph of the author's son making blueberry pie

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