The berry window
Someday I want to live on a piece of land that is established with old vines and overgrown patches, with orchard trees and stories to tell. I want acres that have a history as deep as it is wide and a chunk of the Earth in which to get to know, to care for, and in many years to come pass on to another person who loves the feel of dirt between her toes as much as I.
But for now, we have less than an acre with the feeling that someday we’ll pass on what we have done here to someone else. There are maple trees to tap, garden beds wedged into the sliver of sunlight in our woods, and fragrant herbs out front for the kids to make their secret potions. There are potatoes in the flowerbeds, and around back where I was too lazy to landscape, a wildly overgrown patch of strawberries.
Just out the back door, it’s easy to pick them. It’s no trip to a farm or travel time to check for ripeness. Instead I glance out the window and look for splotches of red among the green.
For the past five years, that patch has supplied us with enough sweet jam for as much peanut butter as we could possibly eat. For the past five years, I have very strongly made the berry window. This year I sadly did not.
Everyone with berries growing knows that there is that short period of time when berries hit their perfect ripeness. Not only us humans realize this, but also the chipmunks and birds and rabbits and other demonic creatures of the night that pick clean our sweet patches of fruit. Sometimes I feel like they sit hiding behind a shrub and count forty-seven seconds and then pounce like vicious dogs and laugh because we humans did not make it in that prime picking berry window.
But in nature there is balance beyond our control, it seems. My strawberries all went to the birds etc. this year, but on the other side of the yard a wild black raspberry patch has flexed its own berry muscles. And out front there are blackberries poised and bright white, waiting for their turn.
I promise myself not to miss another berry window this year.
I promise to watch like a hawk (or a chipmunk) every single day for the white orbs to turn to pink, to red, to purple, to the sweetest dark plum so I can race out and pluck them into my plastic bowls. Because marvelous things happen when you pay attention to the land around you, to the ways of the world and the invincible force of nature.
I’ll toss a couple back for the furred and feathered friends and share the rest with loved ones over ice cream and grow your history a little deeper.
Originally written 6.28.15