Wild berries

A month ago I was feeling a bit low. This season would likely bring few if any apples, pears, plums, cherries and other tree fruits to our table. The two hard frosts in late May took care of that, and this summer our little orchard seems intent on producing nothing but a bumper crop of young branches for me to prune next year.

But I’ve put all that behind me. We’re smack in the middle of berry season and so far it’s been great. The warm weather this spring seemed to make the strawberries particularly big and tasty, and last week I  picked the last of the wild black raspberries (pictured) from the few bushes in the corner of our hay field. Black raspberries are so satisfying. They grow up off the main plant in little floricanes with fruit clusters at the end. When ripe they fall right off, leaving the little hollow space behind, which is one way to distinguish between black raspberries and blackberries which are not hollow, and pull off the little base along with the fruit.

The blackberries are not quite ripe yet, but until they are, we can forage in a nearby marsh for high bush blueberries. The wet ground makes boots necessary, and depending on the time of day, bugs can be a nuisance, but the high bushes make bending down unnecessary, which is a relief. To find the marsh, we leave a trail that leads off our woods into some dense pines. A few yards of the pines and we reach the edge of the marsh. It’s still shady here, but there are plenty of bushes with good-sized berries, and firm ground to stand in. Venture a bit further, and we emerge into the hot sun and feel our boots squishing down into the mud. This morning, an hour or so yielded about 3 quarts of the little blue wonders.

There are many more berries to come this year, and we’ll be there to pick them when we can. And what we don’t pick, the birds will feast on.

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