Thursday, June 18, 2009

Raspberry Pickin' Time!

There is both pain and pleasure in this annual event: raspberry pickin' time!
They grow wild hereabouts and I've picked them every year we've lived here ... since 1987.
But take a look at these wild berries as they begin to ripen: golden yellow, orange, red and finally a lovely shade of deep purple.

It is now - the third week of June - when I usually don an additional layer of clothing and carry a plastic bucket around as I gather up the sweet fruit. I am accosted by mosquitoes and flies above and poison ivy and chiggers below. So I make sure I've slathered on some insect repellent and pulled on long pants (heavy jeans are best) as I wade into the already-deep weeds to collect this annual wild harvest.

The ripe berries hide among the undergrowth and I must find them before the birds. It is a challenge each year, this harvesting contest. The birds see the bounty as theirs - and the fruit being wild and buried in weeds I suppose they are convinced correctly - but I figure I am the owner and taxpayer of the property and thus have some secondary right, too.

I do not gather many at a time. They are protected too much by the weeds and the insects. But I gather the best, the ripest of all, and leave those less than perfect for a next time. Eventually I will tire (before the birds do) and leave the rest of the crop to them. But I tire from the discomfort and never from the berries themselves. They are perfect liberally added to a bowl of cereal in the morning with no sugar necessary when the berries are glistening atop the corn flakes.
The picture (below) is of my plastic butter container as I'm collecting a day's worth. They are not many but they are the better for their dearth.

While I am standing knee-deep in the weeds, I can't help but admire the tiger lily which I excavated almost a quarter century ago, threw them atop a compost pile in the meadow and left them to die. But somehow they dug their roots down and in time have replanted the bulbs as though they were carefully placed there.

They expand their area too quickly in a flower bed but in the meadow they are perfect. Cover this acre with your orange blooms, will you? Let me look upon a golden sea from my kitchen window. If not the beauty of their blooms, let me appreciate their tenacity. Every country road attests to that.