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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Let’s hear it for summer berry season

Blackberries are ripe and ready for the picking, destined for the jam pot in our tiny kitchen on wheels. (Leslie Kelly)
Blackberries are ripe and ready for the picking, destined for the jam pot in our tiny kitchen on wheels. (Leslie Kelly)

We love all summer produce -- from corn and green beans and tender lettuce to stone fruit -- but berries rise to the top of the heap.

For starters, if you are willing to put in the time dodging prickly thorns, you can score some fruit for free. In the Northwest, blackberries are a creeping nuisance for gardeners, but a boon for jam makers like me. 

There's something so satisfying about finding a patch of fat, ripe berries that quickly fill up the buckets we've brought along to fill. 

During berry season, my friend, the late Jon Rowley, would travel with a slab of plywood in his vehicle. He laid it down on the lower portion of the vines, making for easier access to the big berries that were just out of reach without that brilliant hack. 

Jon's also the guy who showed me the value of making a sling for my bucket that could be hung around my neck. That way, you could do some ambidextrous harvesting. You're done in half the time.

After skipping the summer ritual of jamming the past couple of years, it felt so right to be back at it in the spacious kitchen of our temporary home base in Bellingham. It's especially rewarding when getting sweet compliments from the recipients of the finished product. Uncle Fred, for instance, said the jar I'd given him was "beyond excellent." Wow!

What's your favorite way to enjoy summer fruit?



Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.