They call it civilization.

First they built these great sterile megamarkets and filled them with aisle upon aisle of modern-day goodies. Whatever couldn't be shoved into a box or crammed into a can was stamped with a natural sounding name and dumped in a bin like an afterthought.

Then they gave everybody a metal cart and sat back to watch the customers wrestle for the last unbruised apple, grope wild-eyed for that pair of corn cobs with all the kernels still intact.

Now comes the summer harvest, and revenge is sweet and juicy. It's goodbye to all that metal, mold and Muzak, and hello to getting your groceries the way God intended -- in nature's own supermarkets.

Out in the orchards and farmlands that surround us, it's time to reap the fruits and vegetables of summer. There are peaches, apples, nectarines, raspberries, corn, melons, grapes, vegetables of every variety. And damsons. And the thrill that comes from picking your own far outshines that of filling your own far outshines that of filling in a diagonal on the $5 bingo card.

Simply saying aloud the syrupy, sibilant names of the crops is enough to prime one for a slow promenade through the orchard. There are Freestone and Glowhaven peaches; there Winesap and Red Delicious apples, and the beloved Silver Queen, caviar of corn. There are melons to create a chilly ache in the throat and snap beans to turn the fingernails a healthy green.

The more industrious reapers will want to do their own harvesting, while those who appreciate the taste but not the toil will head for the pre-picked bushels. But no matter what method is used, there are certain rules of earthy etiquette that apply:

Always call before making the trip. W.E. Williams of Peach Manor Orchard points out that the drought has cut many corps by a third. Though there's sure to be plenty for everyone, it's good planning and good manners to announce your intended arrival to the people who grow the crops.

BYO containers. Baskets and bins don't grow on trees, even in these environs, and it's unreasonable to expect others to provide them.

Harvest your trash as well as your treasures. Many farms offer picnic areas for those who want to enjoy an outdoor meal or taste their acquisitions. Such thoughtfulness should be rewarded in kind. Remember, it's not nice to foul Mother Nature.