My friend JoAnn/Josie/JoJo-Dancer instructed me on how to pick bittersweet – that ubiquitous fall favorite that is actually becoming a noxious invasive in many parts of the country. Despite that, it brings a fall beauty to doorways and tabletops and mantles, if picked correctly. The time to cut them is when the “berries” turn yellow, but before they burst open to reveal their inner orange. Most of us (myself included) waited until they were in full color to clip, but if you wait that long they fall apart. If picked when intact and unpopped, they will open on their own accord and hold their color – and this beauty – for much longer.

At a time of the year when most things are beginning the brown and gray march toward a certain winter, these color bursts are a welcome bit of cheer, but their name is redolent of what’s really going on, so I’m going to include the musical clip below of Me-Shell NdegeOcello’s ‘Bitter.’ Many years ago it got me through a cheerless winter in Chicago, because sometimes you have to go through the pain to get out of it.

Until the winter arrives, however, I’m taking the bitter with the sweet, and keeping the color on the vine. There is more of fall to come.


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