Bowls of beautiful, bountiful berries

Oregon summers are blessed with berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, marionberries, and of course the ubiquitous blackberry. We thought last year's crop of blackberries were the best ever, but this year seems to have topped it. We have only to walk across the driveway to reach the first small group of bushes, and only a half block more to reach at least 100 more edging an empty field, so gathering this sweet black bounty is nearly effortless.

We already have a freezer full of berries (future deep-winter berry crumbles, jelly, and cereal toppings) and freezer jam, and a large pot of berry mash in the closet slowly becoming blackberry vinegar. Still, I am tempted to pick more. No one but us seems to want them, and I hate to see them go to waste. On the other hand Ray says we'll have to buy another freezer if I don't stop picking. What to do?

Most of the year we buy our produce from a supermarket, which means I sometimes forget how bountiful nature can be when conditions are right. But the plentiful berries and our overflowing little plot of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers and squash all remind me that nature is on our side; all we need do is pay her some serious respect and get out of the way. With this in mind I go out to pick "just a few more," remembering to bless all those wonderful, profusive blackberry bushes with my own profusive thanks.