When I was little I remember watching my Grandma go outside after dinner to pick raspberries in the backyard. I don’t know why, but I always knew not to follow her beyond the porch. I was never instructed not to, and I’m sure she would have welcomed me if I’d followed, but it was clear that in those moments, when she grabbed a cardboard crate and dragged her plastic chair through the weeds past the shed, that she needed to be on the periphery of the yard. She needed to perform a ritual of her own resignation, of order. She needed to pick the day’s batch before they fell off the vine, and she needed to do it because tomorrow new ones would ripen.
Alice Walker once said, “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.” Despite the pull of a world that often beckons us to exist for the purpose of others, the authors in this issue have created characters who are clear in their understanding that the ledge of pain, joy, and the unknown will know when and how to level itself.
Hannah and I are moved by the stories in this issue and their ability to capture the erratic certainty that things will come back to their center. It has reinforced for us that even though our simple rituals of purpose may not always form seamlessly or welcome the radical quiet of a summer night picking berries, that they may help us exist and move forward, even briefly, with the understanding that life will continue with both predictability and disorder. That although our stories will keep changing and our uncertainties will remain, we can carve out our own rituals. We hope these stories will tell you when to prod the last patch of berries off the stem into your palm and when to let the sun have them for another day.
Hannah Newman & Jesse Ewing-Frable
Sweet Tree Review