I have a couple bloody scratches on my shin, and a few more on my forearms. I have stubborn thorns stuck in my socks and a couple new loose threads on my t-shirt. I have purple splotches on my hands, and my teeth, and probably my chin. The berries are ripe.
Not just any berries, but the wild berries. Don’t get me wrong, I will happily tend berry plants of many sorts. But there’s a special place in my heart for wild berries. Maybe because their taste brings back a flood of memories of all the trails and wild places where I have sampled their like before… Or maybe just because they are such an unconditional gift of mother nature. They require nothing more than neglect (which I offer in abundance), and the willingness to wade into the wilds once a year, I guess. A minor tussle with the thickets and thorns seems an awfully small price to pay for the sweet taste of summer.
I’ve been sneaking a perfectly ripe salmonberry or six on my walks up or down the driveway for the last week or so, and keeping my eye on the thimbleberries that are laden with fruit but just beginning to yield a ripe berry or two. But then today I wandered a little farther off the beaten path and realized that the wild raspberries are there for the taking, and the huckleberries are ripening quickly, too. It’s time.
This weekend I will dig up an old belt and hang a bucket around my neck and head out on a mission to collect as many as I can in a couple hours and then stow them safely in the freezer for those winter days that require a little taste of sunshine. For today, I snuck in an extra break or two from my work day to walk outside for a quick snack of sun-warm fruit. Tomorrow morning on the ferry, I will enjoy a smoothie made with a small bowl full of berries picked less than 12 hours earlier.
Yes, it’s a sweet life. Mmmmm… summer berries.