Berries' Bounty


Country MoonSummers here in the Midwest offer a sweet bounty all their own, free for the taking. There are so many things to love about summer as a season, but from mid-June to the end of the month there is a special magic in those golden days of summer for me.

It’s when everything turns green, and not just green, but rather countless different hues of the color. Driving through farmland, all the fields are oceans of green, which radiate against the wooded backgrounds of deeper, darker greens. It’s when fireflies make their debut for the season and light up the early night sky. Who needs fireworks with the show they put on!

Though for me, the most special part of these couple of weeks is when the berries begin to ripen. Strawberries are nearing their demise for the season and blueberries are not quite ready, but wild raspberries, blackberries, and other varieties are just beginning to ripen. My favorite, hands down, of all these are the wild black raspberries. Here in southern Michigan and central Indiana where I spend my time, the wild ones grow prolifically and are free for the taking.

I love heading to the woods early in the morning, before the hot sun bakes them for the day and while the morning dew is still on, and seeing what bounty I can harvest for the day. There is a certain solitude about being in the fresh air, one with God and picking the ripe, juicy and sweet berries that he has provided. Never mind that my shoes and pants usually get soaked and my hands are stained for days. What a small price to pay for the sweet bounty.

Of course, the ultimate reward of berry picking is the savory sweet treats that make out-of-this-world cobblers, pies, and ice cream. Sometimes the best way to enjoy them is just straight from the patch. This is an activity that just about everyone can partake in, with only a few rules to keep you safe and successful.

It used to be that wild black raspberries could be found along roadsides, and sometimes that is still the case in some areas. However, they are usually found along fence rows, in overgrown meadows, and along the edges of woods. Unlike other fruits, they do not ripen once picked, so only choose the deep purple ones and don’t tug on the berries because the ripe ones will fall off easily. The clusters that receive the most sunlight ripen first, so the ones on the ends and outsides of the brambles will catch your eye. But don’t be fooled into thinking you have found them all because down in the centers of the foliage is where the largest and juiciest ones are sometimes hiding.

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