The first week that Trevor and I were here without the kids, I stumbled across a Christmas tree farm that also had 5 acres of blackberries in the summer. Blackberries are actually not one of my favorite berries, but there is a completely nostalgic value to them that I can't quite escape.
When I was a girl, Gramps had a long row of blackberries that he grew. They climbed the rudimentary trellis as they matured, and in the summer we would all pick berries until our hands and arms were scratched and bleeding from the briars. They were huge berries, not like the ones we would find wild in the woods around their house. They were good right off the vine, and they stained our fingers purple as we picked and devoured them, enjoying the juicy sweet but tart flavor until we were full.
When our buckets were full, we would bring them in to Granny and she would work her special magic in the kitchen, making blackberry dumplings, cobblers and jelly. The dumplings were my favorite, and the very thought of them takes me back to 1982 when I was 10 and the summer stretched endlessly in front of me.
All of this flashed through my mind when I saw that farm, and I decided that I would take the kids blackberry picking when they got here. Today was the first day that we've been able to get out there, so Gracie and I got up at seven and drove over. Nathan wasn't interested in going, so the girls had some special time together.
As we walked up and down the rows picking berries and chatting with other pickers, I felt like a child again. Gracie caught on quickly, and was proud of her progress as she made her way down the row, occasionally calling out and letting me know when she found a particularly big one. It's only rained once for about 5 minutes the entire 3 weeks that we've been here, but this morning the clouds were looming on the horizon. We finished up and went to the shed to have the berries packaged and weighed. All in all we picked about 3 quarts, which was more than enough for our little family.
Not long after we got home, the sky opened up and the rain came down in heavy sheets. We had timed our trip just perfectly, and set to work washing and picking over the berries.
Gracie ate one after they were washed, and announced that she didn't really like blackberries. That's okay...she'll always have the memory of picking blackberries in the summer with me and she'll eat them for that reason alone.