A week ago the last of the strawberries were harvested. The pickings were slim and even the chipmunks abandoned the vegetable garden looking for food. As I scoured the patch for the last time, removing the bird netting, I found a few perfect fruits reminding me how fortunate we have been this season with bountiful harvests every day for many weeks. The last berries were bittersweet to the taste as they reminded me of what I won’t sample for nearly a year. But that is the way of the garden as most crops—save greens, radishes and similar veg—come for but for a short time each year. We cherish these short visitors the most, particularly when first absent. But as the strawberries were fading, the blueberries were ripening.
They first tease us with collections of berries cloistered in clusters too white to even consider. Then slowly a few berries come into color with daylight and a deepening blue patina appearing on their sunny side. After I picked the last of the strawberries, I visited the blueberry bushes hoping to grab an early arrival. Just when I thought I found a ripe one after picking it I saw its bifurcated form: half white, half blue. It rewarded my impatience with a sourness causing my mouth to draw up with a pucker. Over the last week I continued to look for a completely ripe berry but found none.
This morning I was hoping for better luck and went to visit the bushes with Charlotte and Juana. Creeping behind the bushes, I pulled a few ripe ones but still were fooled into harvesting ones that should have remained on the plant. Charlotte had no such issue as she became a two-handed harvester rapidly pulling ripe fruits from untouched branches and stuffing them into her mouth faster than could a flock of birds. We stopped her reminding her that these fruits should be savored rather than gulped. She reluctantly agreed and went in for lunch with us. Later in the day, Juana and her would better survey the first real pickings of blueberries and harvest the first crop of the season.