As summer reaches full swing and July melts into August, berries are at their peak. Strawberries came and went from mid-June to July. Mornings were welcome efforts as we filled our baskets with the first fruit of summer, sometimes in quantities that were too much to handle. Our hands wet with dew and red juices were all too common each day. As the strawberries faded, blueberries and then thimbleberries emerged. Smaller in size, both stained our hands and clothing. The blueberries were harvested under veils of netting placed to prevent the birds from beating us to the harvest. But Charlotte more than made up for the birds as she challenged our ability to collect enough fruit for jam or pie.
We didn’t have that problem with thimbleberries, growing wild outside our fenced-in gardens, though Charlotte did have an initial run in with a wasp. But now that it is August, the blackberries are in. Charlotte is happy to pick blackberries as they are thornless and she can do so in her dress with bare feet. In the beginning of the season, they are tempting to pick as tiny orbs that have not quite turned black. We pull the darker ones only to have our mouths pucker up as the sourness hits us hard. It is too early.
Within a few days of good sun and warm temperatures, the berries turn deep black and are easy to pull from the vines. Some are the size of a large marble and we pop a few into our mouths. The sweet deep flavor rolls down our throats and we want more. We know though if we fill our tummies, there will be no berries for pie or jam. We stand in the vines and carefully pull the fruit. The tops of our fingers darken and blacken with our chores. Some of the fruits are less developed and have a few drupelets (individual balls of the fruit, each holding a seed.) These do not pull easily off their stems mostly winding up squashed between our fingers.
Careful picking and control give us baskets of blackberries, enough for pie and fruit. There are still some blueberries and thimbleberries but for now we are focused on the bounty of the blackberries, the last fruit of summer in our garden.