The Taste of Summer

In years past, Martin and I — and eventually, the boy — wandered the trails and picked wild berries. But they came with a price. You had to wade through a sea of poison ivy, dodge well-concealed pin-sharp prickers, and duck a flurry of bees. The reward: a fistful of tart & tiny, not-quite-ripe berries.

Within a couple of weeks we’d discover that they had ripened; overnight, the wildlife would descend and pick those bushes clean.

Then two summers ago Martin planted raspberry and blackberry bushes to flank our grapevine. Last year’s harvest: about 5 berries per plant. This summer, however, the bushes are bursting with sweet fruit. And we’re the wildlife picking them clean.

It’s become an evening ritual. The kids tumble out of the car all grubby and sweaty, and make a bee-line for the bushes. Rarely do we actually collect any berries. Instead we just pop them from plant to mouth while they’re still warm from the sun. You wind up with a few thorny pricks but the reward is worth a little bloodshed.