Monday, July 20, 2009

Summer berries

While the calendar might have said midsummer a few weeks ago, we live by a different timetable in this house. The height of summer is when the raspberries ripen and explode on the vine--a short growing season in Wisconsin so it stands to reason that when your one and only crop comes in, it's summer. I'm not a canner (yet....but one day I will be, along with being a quilter ) so the berries are for eating right here and right now.

" The berries are in! Put them on your cereal, on your ice cream, on your steak! "
" But Mommy, we're full."
" You ungrateful children. I don't care how full you are, there's always room for berries."

I don't really know if other people love berries as much as Chip does. He has not one but two berry washers, made by my good friend Leslie and her wonderful potter's hands, that sit patiently in a high cabinet ten months a year before becoming kitchen counter staples during the summer. First the straws, then the rasps and finally the blues. BerryBoy stands poised and ready, a berry washer in each holster.

These bushes are kind of special to me because they were a secret gift from the previous owners, like the hollyhocks, the peonies and the magnolia. We moved in mid August, and the foliage was green and fried at that point and the raspberries were nothing but a browning bramble by then. I had previously managed a postage stamp sized plot of annuals in Philadelphia and was overwhelmed by the many and varied garden beds left to my care. A near brush with disaster that first fall. My dad was helping me get all the garden beds cleaned up and in order in advance of winter, and we happened upon a summer's neglected vegetable bed on the south side of the house. I suggested just wiping out the lot so I could start from scratch the following spring. We weeded a bit, and then he stood up abruptly and said, "Wait, stop. You know Jul, I think these might be something. We better leave this as is." The following summer, like walking in on a surprise party in my honor, I blundered on to 12,000 berries screaming "Surprise! Pick us!" Since then, we've been ready for our annual crop and we prime our psyches and our taste buds for a bounty of our own homegrown berries for three weeks. I wish I could take credit for the fruitful gifts of our land but I can only claim that neglect is a powerful fertilizer in this case.

My summer perennial garden also coming along and I intend to leave a note to any future owners about not pulling any "weeds" for at least one growing season.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a berry person too. It kills me that the berry season is so short. But this year, the absence of summer is killing me even more.