I watched the red buds open into bright orange flowers. I watched those flowers give way to round green berries. I paid close attention to those green berries, waiting for them to turn red. However, as i waited many of them shriveled and went straight to black. I was confused as to what was happening. I thought maybe the pink ones had ripened and then rotted. So i tasted a barely pink berry. It didnt have much of a taste. I figured this was not the state one was supposed to eat them in. A week later i revisited the bush and the pink berries had turned red. There were black and orange beetles of all sizes (hundreds of them) clinging to the branches. They were eating the berries. That was why they had turned black. The beetles had chewed holes in them but left them on the plant. Compromised, they shriveled and rotted. So, i had come late to the scene. The beetles got most of the harvest this year. I had to move the beetles off the remaining berries to steal their leftovers.
I realized quickly why people had told me agaritas could not be picked without getting stuck by the thorns. The berries were shielded by spiky leaves, positioned strategically underneath them. You could not pick a berry without moving a spiny leaf. I realized quickly that the way to eat agaritas was one at a time. The flavor was wonderful and the burst of tart sweetness in one’s mouth would motivate a person to endure more of the torture, picking through the stabbing leaves. However, if one collected in bulk the delayed gratification would convince a person they were done picking berries before all of them had been removed from the bush.
The best berries came from the bush in the dog run. There were less beetles camped out on this one and so the berries were allowed to get a bit riper. I was sure that a deep red would have been even tastier but if the beetles and the birds had no qualms about eating them early waiting for deep red would render me with no berries. They were very yummy. I ate them one at a time to convince my brain all the poking and stabbing of my fingers on the spiny needle-like leaves was worth it. It was.