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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Red alert - berries

Okay, so the red berries and fruits of late fall can't compete with the grandstanding strawberries and raspberries of summer. The fruits, like rose hips and crab apples, are pretty lively in October but wither in November. The berries, both those more orange in hue and those that are spectacularly red, are gorgeous even though they don't provide food for the exalted human taste. Just as important, they sustain our fellow travelers, the deer and the birds. I like their wildness, their bravery, their inspiration, their modesty - muncher and munchee alike.

The winterberry, however, is the most heartbreaking of all. Its growth can be delicate, a few sprigs against a mossy spruce, or it can be profligate, spreading like fire along a lane. I cut a few twigs, and when I get back to the house, put them in a vase. Throughout the winter the berries will dry and fade and carry us through. For even months later, they will retain a kiss of red, a promise of cardinals and lilacs, a resurrection of spirit.

Next time: red human stuff.

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