Black raspberries ripen on vines in my Faribault, Minnesota backyard.
ALREADY, SPLOTCHES OF PURPLE stain my fingertips. Thorns scratch across my forearms as I ferret for more fruit. My skin itches. Mosquitoes swarm. I pick a hair-thin, squiggling worm from a tiny berry.
Yet, I continue to reach and pluck, reach and pluck, occasionally popping a juicy black raspberry into my mouth. As the seeds crunch against my teeth, as the slightly-tart berries burst upon my tongue, I relish this first taste of summer.
After a long Minnesota winter, these berries tempt my senses. I admire their deep purple, near-black, color. I caress their daintiness, savor their sweetness.
Daily I pick enough berries to fill a small bowl.
Soon I’ve filled a small bowl with the wild morsels that grow on thorny vines tumbling out of the woods next to my backyard.
Later, I’ll toss handfuls onto romaine lettuce I’ve grown. More go into the blender, combined with ice cream and milk for a deep purple shake that bursts with flavor. I mix other berries with vanilla yogurt, bananas and milk to create a healthy smoothie.
But mostly, I grab berries now and then from the bowl that sits on the kitchen counter. Sometimes I wash the raspberries, most often not.
Tomorrow I’ll be back in the berry patch, braving the brambles as I gather this fruit of the earth, these wild black raspberries that taste of sweet summertime in Minnesota.
Wild black raspberries have overtaken a corner of my backyard and I'm just fine with that.
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling