‘Tis the Season for Wild Berries

New York, NY. What does summer in the city mean? Aside from Shakespeare in the Park, fire hydrants mutilated into sprinklers, and a mad dash out of town on Friday afternoons, summer heat translates into the sweetness of summer berries. While everyone boards their Hampton Jitneys, I’m happy just kicking back in the five boroughs and enjoying the fruit.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about juneberries, which appeared in the NY Times Sunday Metro. Truth is, my fiance and I had been dealing with some sad news, and foraging was one of the few things that comforted me—just like discovering mulberries on the day my grandmother passed away two years ago. Standing inside that juneberry tree, on the hunt for the sweetest purplish-black berry, and witnessing that cardinal land on a branch only a few yards away, kick-started me out of my grief. It was the physiological equivalent of holding a cube of ice in my hand—I literally couldn’t think of anything else except that bird.

I watched the cardinal warily regarding my fiance, completely unaware of me. Then it plucked a fat berry in its beak and flew away.

We collected about 8 oz. of the berries that day. Back home, I made juneberry-blackberry jam sweetened with honey from a friend’s hive on Staten Island. Other friends in the NYC area gathered enough for several tarts and pies. It was a pretty, er, fruitful juneberry season this year.

Here’s a shot my fiance took, mostly of the juneberry tree. (I’m to the right, just outside the frame). Can you spot the birdie?

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