berries galore (dreaming of stone fruits)

i really hope that it stays cool this week, as i’m told it will. i was informed of the forecast on saturday afternoon, while waiting for my sister’s oboe recital to begin at a church on the corner. once Alice informed me that it was going to stay cool for another week, i couldn’t stop smiling. if it’s cool the strawberry plants continue to fruit; the end of strawberry season comes, sometimes abruptly, usually coinciding with enough consistent heat that the ripening berries begin to cook, becoming mushy and moldy at the slightest provocation. the heat paves the way for the stone fruits, but the berries can’t really take it. berries are so fragile, especially in comparison to many of the stone fruits. these are often so immense, juicy, and yielding that they seem ready to collapse into a puddle. and yet, somehow, as if the stone is the foundation for the flesh of the fruit to rest upon.

it seems almost darwinian; a battle of between berries and stone fruit, a competition for dominance, to “cover the earth” with successive generations. berries are tiny lures, vessels stuffed with progeny, ready for a seasonal diaspora. the multitude march through their lemming lives, entranced by the sun, pulled by the season through growth, harvest, a harrowing ride through an intestinal tract, and then a chance, summarily denied by modern solid waste disposal, to propigate and join in the endless fight for global dominance.

however, on the other end of the battlefield, the proud stone fruit has husbanded its resources into a single, nearly impenetrable core, a single point of burning intensity: the stone itself. within the stone, a fat, wet seed lies in wait, killing time as the encasing flesh baloons, softens, and is plucked. the stone fruit’s journey is simpler, yet longer than the berry’s; the stone supports the fruit, allows the fruit itself to travel, and once the body of the fruit has been consumed, the remainder, the bare skeletal stone, is discarded.

there’s no clear winner. the singular berry plant can send out thousands of seeds: dozens per blackberry, even hundreds per strawberry or kiwi. unfortunately, the flimsiness of the fruit requires either constant refrigeration (and a decline in taste) or immediate consumption/use. the stone fruit’s lone namesake has found a symbiotic balance with the flesh, carrying the dozing seed, and setting forth into the world. the stone fruit has found an important loophole in my jamming process and is taking advantage of it: i peel the flesh off of the stone, and then i toss it into my compost pile. it lays there, waiting patiently, until it is removed in a wheelbarrow-load of compost, carried into the garden, and deposited near the surface. if the stone can survive this journey (and overcome the sterility of overly hybridized species), then it succeeds at last. the berry’s seeds have been long since washed down river by the RWSA my customers’ consumption of my jam, all of their beauty and careful preparation for naught.

one more week of strawberries, that’s all i can really hope for. blueberries are nice and all, but strawberries are my favorite…although when raspberries come in next week i might change my mind about that.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 1st, 2009 at 9:15 am and is filed under fruit, picking fruit, ruminations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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