Sunday, April 19, 2009

the berry-eaters

Dover, FL, was a success today. Mission accomplished. I'm tired, dirty, and daydreaming of how in touch with my humanity I would feel living on a farm!

In case you've never been "you-pick" berry picking, the story is that organic farmers hire field hands when their season starts. Those choice berries go to markets all over the place and then they open for "you-pick" when the general public can come in and get berries dirt cheap.

It's not easy work, since it's so hot and sunny and many of the remaining berries are small, buggy, dry, or still under ripe. But amid all of the duds are more good ones! Anthropologically, this is fascinating to me. The kids and I wandered the field and let ourselves be drawn to the right spots. My method is to let my vision blur a little as I walk and when RED and SHINY catches my eye, I drift over and focus a bit.

The sun heats the berries, which burst sweetly between your teeth. Gnats and small black ants are our cousins in the field, searching from row to row. The biggest ones seem to hide in the center of the plant, but the most flavorful ones are the ones that extend from the plant and are roasting in the afternoon light.

The berries continue to ripen throughout the season, so if I was to go next weekend, there'd be a whole new set of berries to pick. But, as it is, I have my work cut out for me... it's time to make my ruby-red preserves.

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