The Berry People are back, bacon sales are on the uptick and harvest widows (and widowers) are girding themselves for vintage 2012.
The Berry People's numbers have been growing for the past few weeks. You see them mostly on back roads, picking the wild blackberries that grow on prickly tangled vines along the streambeds. Early in the season it's tricky finding the ripe berries, because even if they've darkened, they can be tart, as in mouth-puckeringly supersour. The Riper-Berry People are still biding their time.
Early pickers have to be selective. The berries begin to darken from red to black as September arrives, signaling the Berry People to take up their baskets and buckets, foraging alone or in small herds. And the wild berry vines do their best to feed the horde, pumping out more and more berries as the ripe ones disappear. With the birds competing with the Berry People, staggering through thorny thickets, their hands stained red with berry juice, the scene can become downright Hitchcockian.
You should befriend the Berry People if you can—the blackberries are sweet and vibrant, ideal for pies. The Berry People are known for their pies.
Berries aren't the only thing ripening on the vine as we head into September. The tomato crop is peaking, which means folks are pulling out all the tomato recipes. It's been an exceptional year for tomatoes, almost everyone agrees, the best in years. Those who believe there is a correlation between ripe tomatoes and ripe grapes can only view this as the best of scenarios.
And with all those fresh tomatoes on the market, bacon sales are on the rise. This time of year, the butcher at the local grocery knows what bacon buyers have in mind: BLTs.
As harvest gains steam, wineries run around the clock. There are long days in the vineyards and cellars and few days off. We'll know in a month or so—when the harvest widows get their husbands back—just how good the 2012s can be.
The berries and tomatoes are looking very good indeed.
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