It’s nearly 90 degrees outside. Most people are seeking shade, beaches, lakes or air-conditioning to escape the heat. Not my husband. He is fully attired from head to toe in long pants, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a Bill Murray “Caddyshack”-style hat and gardening gloves. He is preparing for the annual berry- picking bonanza.
Just outside our home in a Northern New York suburb, there is a short but prolific berry season. The raspberries are wild, slightly tart and bright red. Hundreds, if not thousands, of bushes dot our neighborhood.
For a few days each July, my husband-turned-boy relishes the simple, old-fashioned pleasure of picking fresh berries. The season is very short—a week at most—during which time the berries are perfectly ripe, but have yet to be consumed by the local animals or dried out by the summer heat.
Dozens of berries are readily visible on the front side of the bushes, but my husband seeks the greater challenges that lie beyond the low-hanging fruit. He prefers to venture inside the bushes to uncover the “berry motherlode.” These forays generate redder, plumper and much more plentiful berries. But it’s tricky work. The berry vines bear a thick, protective layer of prickers, hence the need for full body gear.
As the afternoon slowly passes, The Berry Man remains hidden deep inside the raspberry bushes, patiently plucking berries and dropping them into his bag. Two hours later he emerges with what is, indeed, the motherlode. Enough to feed a small army for days. Next comes the painstaking process of washing and cleaning the berries to remove stems and other vine remnants.
Finally, the berries are ready to enjoy! They are delicious plain, with granola & yogurt or atop a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
This year’s raspberry season will last just another day or two. Then my husband will have to wait for next summer’s berry crop to emerge. Fortunately, he also has the spring maple-sugaring season before then to keep him amused.