Friday, June 29, 2007

It's the "Berry" Best time of Year!

Each afternoon, these balmy summer days, I take my favorite picking container and spend a half hour or so, walking around picking raspberries for our dinnertime treat. Such bounty, and we always feel so fortunate, as we finish our dinner with a small dish of ice crem, topped by those dark jewels. Is there anything richer than fresh berries and cream?

We didn't plant these berries, they just came up voluntarily, and grow a few canes at a time, all around the edges of our property.

As I stroll down the path, headed for the next patch of berries, I chuckle to myself as I see next year's berries starting. The raccoons, those bandits of the night, have been grazing on these berries too. What a cooperative venture it is between us, and I don't mind sharing with them at all. I can see by the flattened bushes and grasses, that the raccoons push into the middle of the berry snarls, where I won't go, to pick their share. Then they head back to their dens with full bellies, dropping their seed loaded scat as they go, planting next year's crop of berries along with a little fertilizer. The raccoons are sometimes annoying, and break into our birdseed and other supplies, but they do have their place in the life cycle of this place we call home.

We feel so lucky to be a part of the the life here in our wooded home place, and spend our days celebrating what we see. The birds, busy at the feeders, entertain us with their squabbles over their favorite perch. We've noticed too, that the mosquitoes and garden bugs aren't nearly as bad as they used to be. We believe that the healthy bird population here has helped keep them in check. I spotted the orange flash of a baltimore oriole as I went out to pick yesterday. They look like a living, flying flame streaking across the orchard area, and the hummingbirds and finches provide drama as they work to get at the perches for the food supply.

There are more goodies to come. The blackberries are still totally green, and it will probably be at least 3 weeks before they're ready.

The blueberries are coming along well this year. They now have a few in each bunch just beginning to ripen, and the birds already are enjoying those and scolding us when we walk too close. The interesting thing is that those that ripen early usually have a small worm inside the center of them. That means that the bad berries ripen early and feed the birds, and are out of the way before we are ready to pick the main part of the berries. Isn't that a wonderful plan? We are left with the bug free, healthy berries, and the birds get their share early and control the bug population. Life is just great, how it works out.

The main part of the blueberries have that white, frosted look that means they're about a month or less away from ready.
It's a wonderful time to be in the country. The garden is coming along well, and we're only about two days away from our much anticipated first tomato. We've been eating salads for a couple of months now, the radishes are done, gone to seed and pulled, and each night we have something from the garden's bounty. The zucchini, green onions, summer squash, edible pea pods and cucumbers are all coming along well and providing something fresh for dinner each night. The three rows of collard, turnip and mustard greens are done now, but we ate them almost daily for weeks, feeling really healthy while we did.

And best of all, there are tiny cantalopes and watermelons coming on. Oh, Boy!