Posts Tagged ‘food’

Blackberries in various stages of ripeness -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

 “There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” Elizabeth Lawrence.


 Growing blackberries was the hot topic of conversation yesterday morning among my circle of writing friends. The chatter took my little gray cells on a journey into the past, back to my preteen years when our family lived with my grandmother.

 She had a little house in Fruitdale, a tiny suburb on the outskirts of Dallas, where she raised rabbits, pigs and chickens and grew a large garden. We also had blackberries aplenty, but not from any garden. They grew wild in tangled bushes that covered a huge empty plot of land that stretched from the back of my grandmother’s property to the railroad tracks at least a quarter of a mile away.

 When I was about 8, I was allowed to go into that field, unsupervised, with a metal pail that I was expected to bring back full of the sweet juicy fruit. The berries came in three colors, green when they first came on the vine, red as the sun began to ripen them, and finally dark purple when they were sweet and ready to be picked and eaten.

I remember being stung once when picking blackberries. My grandmother put a mixture of cornstarch and vinegar on the ouchie. The picture of this bee polinating a blackberry bush was taken by Jonathan Cardy.

 I remember wondering – a kid thing to do but something we should never grow out of – why the berries were called black and not purple. I still don’t know the answer, just that when I returned home with my little pail, usually full, both my hands and my mouth were always stained purple.

 “Looks like you ate more than you picked,” my grandmother would say. Then she would reward my efforts with a small a bowl of the berries sprinkled with sugar and covered with the rich cream that used to float to the top of the milk bottle before fat was a bad word.

 I’ve never eaten a blackberry again that tasted so good. So this non-gardener wishes my friends the best of luck with their blackberry plants. If they taste half as good as those wild ones of my childhood they will be well-rewarded for their efforts.

Meanwhile, if any of you out there know where a wild, unguarded patch of blackberries grow, I suggest you visit it — and  be sure and take a pail along.

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