Over time, the patch we found here originally has grown, engulfing a gnarled mcintosh apple tree and spreading past the old chicken coop; it now covers a good 1,200 square feet of our backyard. Accordingly, when the berries are ripe we require that all members of the household, including guests, pick before dinner. When our two children, Ethan and Seneca, were small, we'd send them out together with a single quart-size box, and they'd disappear into the four-foot-high canes trailed by our golden retriever, Coffee Bean—who'd mouth-pick from the lower sprays, never contributing his finds. Now we all fend for ourselves. Besides eating the berries as we pick, we gather 40 to 50 quarts each summer to use in myriad ways—for shortcake and cobbler, on cereal, and quart after quart for the hungry jam pot. It's all part of our annual rhythm, which makes July in the Finger Lakes a season of remarkable, if fleeting, bounty.