It is that time of year again. Actually it is almost a month early, but the black raspberries have started to arrive and put all other activities on hold. Yesterday I inspected my usual places and while some berries have not quite ripened yet, most others are well on the way. In fact, I should have been out last week and checked more thoroughly. The one place I kept tabs on unfortunately lagged behind most of the rest.
This year for the first time, I seem to be in competition with the birds. In the past, I didn’t find many that had been pecked at, much less eaten. This time, I have found many clusters already fully consumed with the little white core all that is left. I know that my competition can’t be another person because of where the stalks are. I think that with the mild winter and early spring, many fruits came out too soon and were caught in the frost and died. Top it off with the subsequent drought in April and May and I think it is possible that there is a lot less food out there for the wildlife and my berry picking has suffered as a consequence. Drat and double drat.
Anyway, I spent 2 1/2 hours out picking this morning and got close to two quarts. It was a lovely morning, temperatures in the 50’s-60’s and a light breeze. Instead of having to get out at 7 am before the heat and humidity started to rise, I went out leisurely at 8:30 and picked until 11, barely breaking a sweat. I found that the nicest and largest berries were deep in the shade where the drying sun couldn’t reach them. The best were also intertwined with the rose bushes, to my skin’s everlasting sorrow. While the raspberry bushes have prickers, nothing can quite compare to the ripping quality of rose bush thorns, even through long pants and long sleeves. They also excel at grabbing hats and hair. I would have normally gotten over a gallon in my first picking session, but I will have to be satisfied with what I have. The wildlife evidently needs a whole lot more this year. I will be picking again on Friday or Saturday. Wish me luck.