Friday, August 15, 2008

Blackberry Time

When you hear the word "blackberry" and you are under 25, you automatically think of this:

However, I am not under 25, so when I think "blackberry," I envision this:

On the side of my house, where the woodpile should be covered in a tarp so that the cherry tree I cut down will dry into lovely hard wood for the fireplace, I have blackberry vines. They snarl and tangle and weave their way through the split and unsplit wood, their thorns creating a barricade worth of Sleeping Beauty's Prince.
I considered cutting them back, but then I realized I had waited so long they had begun to fruit. Big black goblets swaying in the hot summer night breeze. I pulled off one, popped it in my mouth and felt the succulent scent of summer on my tongue. For a moment, I was 10, and I was picking blackberries alongside the railroad tracks near my grandmother's house. I pulled off another and another and another until my fingers were stained with their juice. I did it then and I did it now.

Dusk was falling, but I wasn't willing for the moment to end, so I went back in the house, brought out a small bowl and proceeded to fill it. As the deep purple berries plunked one on top of the other, I felt drawn back in time, not just to my own childhood, but into the far distant past where generations of hunter/gatherers collected berries in the fullness of summer.

I was doing what women had done for tens of thousands of years. Collecting the bounty of the earth. And eating it. One for the bowl, one for my mouth. I'm sure they did the same thing, gorging themselves on the ripe fruit even as they gathered it for the rest of the group waiting back at the camp.

It seems only fair. When you are the one getting scratched and pricked by the cat claws that cover the vines you should be able to eat as many as you want.

So I did. And there still were enough to put in the refrigerator for breakfast tomorrow.