Friday, July 16, 2010

A Meditation on Raspberries

These days while I am at work on the farm I am picking raspberries. Big Big cultivated raspberries. Not the shy wild berries that I pick on our property at home that hide under thick leaves, but, big buxom in-you-face berries.

It never fails to remind me of the cycle of the year that when raspberry season begins I wax poetic. Snippets of lines run through my mind as I quietly set to the task of picking one small fruit jewel after another. This year is no exception, except that I am not just picking for my own freezer every other day but I am picking for the farm now.

There are three long rows of berries that I have begun to know intimately. The first lower row has a hornets nest in the middle of it. So all the berries surrounding the nest are left unmolested for the hornets peace. This row has a later variety that are just coming on. The fruit is firm and plentiful. The middle row has been heavy with berries for weeks, the south side is heavier with fruit than the north. There have been some mornings when after picking the row it seems that the fruit is ripening behind us and we need to go back and pick again. The last row has a lot of new growth and we have to dig into the row to find the fruit. But we are never disappointed.

With all the sun and heat we have had over the last two weeks the fruit is ripening early and fast and it can be hard to keep on top of all the picking. Today I was on the middle row picking not just the pretty fruit, but the ugly step sisters too. This fruit was not for sale in the farmstand but used for baking pies that will be sold in the farmstand. This sort of picking does not provide the sense of satisfaction that picking for the stand does. The stand berries are picked into half pints. Each berry box a picture of ruby fruit wealth. For pie berries I pick into quarts. I often put my hand on squishy berries. I pick off the little inch worms that have taken up residence in the berry. I pick the young beauties but I must also pick those entering middle age with a touch of gray and then pick the gray off. All along the way I am hounded by the moldy old crones who lament their misspent youth. Such is the life of a berry. Youth is fleeting...


Wendy said...

Wonderful observations, and so beautifully written.

We have a small black raspberry bramble behind the house - with those big, lush berrries, because it's not a wild bramble, but one we bought at the nursery and planted here. I've been picking every day or so - a pint at a time, which is mostly gobbled up as soon as I get it into the house. When the berries were first ripening, my daughters would run out the door, cardboard conatiner in hand, to pick the berries, but now, I can tell they are completely sated with those berries, and it's time to start putting them in the freezer.

Such is life eating in-season - eat as much as we can when we have it, and save the rest for winter ;).

A Northern Farmer said...

We're just discovering how much of this land is over-run by wild raspberries right now! Not a single managed raspberry plant here!

They line the driveway, the pastures, they're in clumps in the forest, behind the barn... they're everywhere! The kids are free to eat as many as they're willing to pick, I think they get bored before they get full though!