Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bleeding Berries



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.

20 comments:

Toby said...

Wonderfully written. I can't wait to share it with friends at work who are just dipping their toes into the fruits of summer.

Kris said...

Nice! We are really enjoying last year's jam that Toby shared on Friday night. I had it on leftover crepes tonight!

Shirley said...

Berry fun to read, especially with a G&T in hand... after a swim at Lisabuela... in 104 degrees! Glad to be on the receiving end of many a berry. (change clammer to clamber before Bill reads this, or perhaps it's subtle Vashon irony?) -Shirley

Edwin said...

Amy- You got my mouth watering with your juicy descriptions of Holmestead berries! Ed

Cary said...

Grandpa Herman would be proud of you. I believe he picked berries well into his 80's. I still have a jar of wild raspberry jam that Grandma Florence canned - too old to eat, too precious to throw away. Remember how she called them "rasp"berries, not "raz"berries? The patch in the Wisconsin garden is over 100 years old; I know my Grandmother was picking from it, too. Emily and I just finished making wild black raspberry jam. We wish we had some of your home-grown berries.

Em and I love reading your blog and seeing the pictures. Keep it up.

NealHines said...

It's a far cry from my recommended new flavor of Gatorade: berries-n-shit.

At first I thought it was Toby at the pen, even going so far as to suggest the writing be the subject of a new power ballad. Then, the MacBeth reference told me who was at the pen and ink. Proud to know you.

Richard said...

We've really been enjoying your loganberries and cascade berries this year. Wonderful flavor!

Without knowing about your blog, I posted a photo that includes some of the cascade berries on my own blog:

http://chemondobello.blogspot.com/2009/07/wealth.html

Now I have to read all your past entries :-).

MaineCelt said...

Mmmmm, Loganberries! I wish I could pop a few of those sweet little Cascades in my mouth, too. My personal favourite is Tayberry, but I can't seem to get them to grow here in Maine. Raspberries and the ubiquitous blueberries are my most successful performers, but this year my Elders are heading out nicely and I should get a nice little harvest from them...if I can keep from chomping the berries right off the bush!
We're hoping to make it back to the Island at the end of this month when my brother gets married. Would love to stop by and see your farm!

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