summer paradox

This morning I was stirring a big batch of jam, early, before the sun came over Mount Hallowell.  It’s always great to have a good supply of jam for winter but of course the berries ripen during the hottest part of summer. We freeze many pounds of raspberries and blackberries, the latter from the trail we walk on regularly up one shoulder of Mount Hallowell, and the former from our garden. But the freezer is full. Sockeye salmon, many bags of raspberries, garlic scapes — summer’s bounty. So jam it is. We grow a luscious raspberry cultivar called Willamette. Its season is about 4 weeks and those weeks came late this year. Right about now I’d be picking blackberries and the first apples but both those are at least three weeks away. This morning’s jam was a combination of Willamette berries, a large raspberry that is vigourous and slightly tart, and some wild black raspberries, Rubus leucodermis, or blackcaps, brought by a friend last week. These are a treasure, found in clearcuts, old burn sites, and open forests. I like to graze on them while hiking up the Malaspina trail but I have to confess I’ve never picked enough to preserve. I love how they darken the colour of this jam and I know how we’ll enjoy opening jar in late November, marvelling at how the smell of summer is preserved. It won’t matter that hot jam spattered my wrists as I ladled it into jars this morning and that mosquitoes that had found the open doors kept stinging my bare shoulders.