The big news of the week is obviously the presidential debate. I'm writing this before it happened. Normally that would be a problem, like writing about a football game before it has been played. Knowing the score is important to the story. But this is different. We already know what will happen. Both sides will claim victory, there will be no material information provided about either guy's specific plans, the press will ignore any substance and seize on a couple of awkward stumbles, and few minds will be changed. People who are undecided now will be undecided in November.

Leading up to the debates, both sides have tried to diminish expectations, claiming that the other candidate is better in that setting and that their side will be struggling to hold position. The bar is set so low now that both will claim to have won if their candidate doesn't drool. In the end, the "winner" will be the one who doesn't sing "I'm a Little Teapot."

It would all be quite discouraging except for the fact that the raspberries are finally on. There is a family in Francis that grows great raspberries. They are just about perfect. All summer long, I've driven past the raspberry patch looking for the berries. I've stopped a couple of times and peeked over their fence, trying to see if there was any fruit on those bushes. There wasn't. They normally come on in late August, but not this year. Like everything else this season, the frosts in June, the unusual heat of summer, drought, and general weirdness of the season wreaked havoc with the growing cycle, and the berries were off schedule.


It looked like they just weren't going to happen.

Raspberries are kind of fussy when things don't go their way. They were a full three weeks late, but they are on now - just in time for the season's first hard freeze. I hope they are able to get a lot of them picked and sold before the cold shuts them down. There's a whole summer's work riding on a couple of weeks of harvest time.

I've tried to raise raspberries in my yard, with no success. My sister gave me some starts from bushes she had in her yard, but I didn't get them in the right location. They struggled and then died out. They were planted in a spot where the snow gets pushed all winter, and either the snow plow or the weight of the snow did them in. But it was about the only sunny spot in the yard.

There are wild raspberries along the river where I walk the dogs all the time. They came on in late July and were actually pretty good for such a dry year. The wild ones are practically microscopic, but I can usually pick enough along the way to get a little taste. There were not enough tiny wild berries on any day to fill a bowl. The fruit stands in Heber may have had some early, but by the time I was looking for berries, they were through. So I had to wait.

The plan with the raspberries is to freeze them and dole them out in small doses for as long as I can make them last. If I'm a little thrifty with them, I can have raspberries on my cereal almost every morning almost until February. By then the days are getting noticeably longer and spring isn't far off. There is something about raspberries on my cereal in January that makes winter easier to take.

Of course there are raspberries in the grocery store all year. But those are berries of the flavorless, rubber variety that are grown a thousand miles away, picked green, and delivered in cement mixers. By the time they hit the grocery-store shelves they are pretty close to being jam. They are expensive, banged up, and bland. That's nothing at all like taking them out of the freezer, every bit as good as they were the day they were picked - which is the same day they were frozen. Not much time for spoilage in that process.

One problem with my raspberry habit is that there isn't room in the freezer for much else right now. Once they are frozen up, I can stack them a little tighter without smashing them and get a little more space, but those ancient freezer-burned chicken breasts that I am never going to cook, but am too cheap to throw out, are finally going to hit the road.

The fall weather continues to be beautiful. I've had a couple of great bike rides, and managed to avoid injury while looking at the scenery instead of the trail. There isn't a whole lot of this weather left.

Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.