Berries of Early Winter

cranberryRuby-red berries lay like abandoned marbles on soaked moss, the thin vines that nourished them before freeze up now invisible. Their now absent neighbors, the blueberries, free formed into plump balloons, but the cranberries are all spheres. Aki, who enjoys sweet berries, ignores them. Hoping to taste some summer on this wet mountain meadow, I plop one into my mouth. After I break its skin with a bite, the berry flesh slowly releases flavors that illustrate the meadow in early winter, not summer. Bitterness comes with the bite, as bitter as the rain-soaked wind that makes my little dog shiver. Then I taste the mushroom like flavor of muskeg meadow, now bare after winter rain washed away the snow cove; favor of fruit from a plant that wraps its roots in decay. Muskeg fades away so I can taste the almost neutral flavor of ice melt like I would if I dipped a cup into the water that floats over the milky-white pond ice.MEADOW

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