I made a vow this year to pay closer attention to summer's song. To be aware of the slight changes in color, in smell, in temperature that signal yet another season ending and a new beginning. Spring comes and goes in a blink, though her gifts are many, if you are quick enough to catch them. Spring salad, crunchy radishes, snap peas, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries....here and then all too quickly gone....
I distinctly remember venturing to the edge of our clearing last July and discovering the dried remnants of a bountiful harvest... wild raspberries come and gone. Just like that, I had missed the harvest and would have to wait another year. On top of that, I discovered two or three young mulberry trees, which we did not realize were there, already stripped of their fruits. What a bummer!
But not this summer! Shoko and I ventured out last week to see how the raspberries and mulberries were faring (actually, we have been checking on them twice weekly or so), only to discover the first morsels of black raspberry goodness and mulberries galore. A heavenly treat for a hot summer's day! (who would've thought we'd be in the upper 90s in June??).
Wild raspberries can usually be found on the edge of woods, as they need pretty much full sun, but grow like brambles. Look for arching branches rising above the weeds, but be careful- they are loaded with thorns and, at least where we live, seem to grow in sync with lots of other prickly weeds. I would definitely wear pants and long-sleeves, if at all possible. The berries shoot off of the thorny branches in little clusters, with the top berry usually ripening first. They are quite a bit smaller than commercial raspberries- but that is often the case with wild strains of fruits and/or veggies.
The berries in the photo are not quite ripe yet, as these are black raspberries and will turn a beautiful deep purple when ready. You'll know they are not simply red raspberries if you go to pull off the red ones, and they are still hard and quite stuck to the plant. The ripe black berries will come right off when you pull gently.
Though the harvest has just begun, and we didn't fill but a pint-full, it feels good to know that we are just a little more in tune with the ebb and flow of nature's gifts this year. We are learning so much about each season and how to appreciate its short bounty, by trying to eat only fresh produce, homegrown or local- which means some of our favorite foods in the world have only a small window of availability. But somehow, waiting for fresh strawberries, juicy blueberries, or sweet asparagus all year makes them oh so wonderful when they finally appear!
And nothing beats having a stockpile of frozen black raspberries, picked with our very own hands, in the freezer, waiting for our next smoothie session....