Friday, June 27, 2008

Can I have some of your purple berries?

Years ago I planted a row of blackberry slips along the fence in our backyard. Now they are a thicket. Even though I prune out the old canes and train the new ones on trellises, it’s hard to keep up. On a summer day I’d swear you can actually see the shoots growing, trailing their way along the ground. It’s always a desperate chase to catch them before they are set in their ways.

Last year there was a killing frost in April. Not many berries. This year they seem to be making up for lost time. In spring the briar had so many blossoms that it looked to be covered in snow. Now the vines are heavy with fruit. Blackberries ripen in succession; at first just a very few to tease the taste buds. Then the fruit begins to flush. Every other evening, an hour of my time is devoted the berry patch. Glossy, black fruit hides under leaves, eluding all but the most thorough examinations. The quiet time lets the mind wander, songs with berries bubble up and I sing to the birds as I pick. Wooden Ships, Blackberry Wine, Raspberry Beret, and tunes of my own making about thorny briar berries. It is relaxing, it is itchy, it is tasty. By the time I’ve finished, my hands and lips are purple, just as they were as a child when I picked boysenberries and ate more than I brought home. Now there’s more in my basket than my belly. Berries for ice cream, berries for trifle and berries for pie. Especially pie. Mmmmmm. Pie.

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