Monty held out his closed fist and looked at me. I put my hand under his and he dropped three perfect blackberries into my palm. He then walked over to Buddy and offered the same bounty. Buddy was tearing his motorcycle apart looking for the keys to his gas can. It wasn’t going well. Buddy was uncharacteristically agitated and was clawing through his tank bag and side-hack like a man looking for an accidently dislodged pin from a live grenade. Proving he hadn’t completely departed from reason, he did pause to accept a few berries from Monty.
It’s been a good ride and the sun was dimming with the day. Buddy was on his twelfth combing of his bike and was showing signs of an impending thirteenth, so Monty and I headed for the blackberries. I imagine we looked like a couple of grizzly bears, well padded in our protective gear, which rendered the thorns’ bite into puppy kisses. The berries were perfect; warmed by the sun and with enough road dust to make the experience a wee more feral. I’d gone in deep and didn’t notice that Monty had backed out and had mounted up. He and Buddy were ready to ride, even though it didn’t look like the pin had been put back in the grenade. They were looking at me. I knew if Buddy’s tank went dry, I’d have no trouble catching them. I waved them on.
Something about the berries made me think of someone I hadn’t seen in a spell. I finally stopped looking for the last perfect berry, then untangled myself from the vines. But, this was summer. The light was warmed by the time of day, basting everything in yellows and oranges. We, the people of this valley, collect these moments like we collect berries from the vine, to preserve and consume during the other three-quarters of the year that is not summer. The texture and the black, smearing red across my hands and Kevlar pants has to be tucked away, has to be placed somewhere I can find it when I sleep soundly to the sound of soft rain. My hands were sticky inside my gloves as I saddled up to chase my amigos somewhere on the road ahead of me.