Sunday, July 26, 2009
They are here; a corporeal translation of sunshine. They drink it up and grow dark and fat to the point where they burst open and bleed their insides down the vines. I try to save them all, but then it is me who starts to bleed. Like blood brothers we stand in this thorny clubhouse sharing our secrets and then eating them up. I crush and mash and juice and jam these jewels in the scorching heat of summer, hoping that when I taste them again in the cold winter mornings I will feel this heat and the sun making me sweat.
The logans are the first to come ripe. They are big, matte, burgundy berries that carry a luxurious reputation around here. People clamor to buy up our supply, and I get excited about the new positive cash flow. Next come our ever bearing raspberries that we just let Gus and Freja have at and fill their bellies whenever they are in the garden, call it keeping the natives happy. Next come the Cascadeberries, my favorite tasting berry, but also my toughest berry to pick and sell. Each berry is like a jewel, black, shiny, multifaceted, and thorny as hell. They have this tiny window of ripeness, pick them too soon and they are tart tart tart, as a friend said: "only a true berry lover would dare eat these", pick them too late and they melt in your hand Macbeth style. These berries do not look as glamorous as the logans or as familiar as the raspberries, and maybe part of why I like them so much is their underdog status. I love the look on peoples' faces once they have tasted a perfectly ripe berry, preferably still warm from the sun. They marvel at the complexity of the taste, the way the memory of the berry lingers well after it is gone. I get terribly defensive when people turn down buying the cascades and opt instead for the familiar, the predictable. But when I do find someone willing to step up and taste, buy, and come back for more cascades I find they are the kind of people I love to be around.
We seek out reflections of ourselves in friendship. It is easy to find the sweetness, conviviality, and classic good traits in a friend. But you know that someone really loves you when they risk the thorns and embrace you completely. I love what we are growing and making here on our little farm. I love our friends old and new. And I love berries.