Foraging for Northwest blackberries

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If you came here looking for a recipe for something with blackberries, you’ve come to the wrong place.  With something so perfect, so juicy sweet, warmed by the heat of the summer sun, how could I be expected to wait to enjoy them.  Once you taste a berry, fresh off the vine, you will know what I mean.  There is nothing in the world like a perfectly ripe berry, picked at the peak of seasonal freshness. ( I will have to admit, it is one of the reasons I come home to the Northwest every summer!)

But you have to get the timing just right, or the tart premature berry can be very off-putting.  The berry has to have a roundness, like that of a very pregnant woman.  And you sort-of wonder how much further she can expand.  Like that.  And the color must also have that bright deepness of fully matured flesh.   When plucked from it’s brambly vines, the berry should release with little effort.  Sometimes, I reach for the berry and pull a little harder than necessary. Without a good grip, it drops into the depths of the twisting thorny vines.  It happens and I keep going.

The sun is bright and blue outside my dining room window, reminding me it’s summer in Seattle and there are wild blackberries in the alley, just waiting for someone to come enjoy them.  Not many people walk through the alley behind the house, as many people use the front street to park and enter the houses.  From the little-to-no traffic through the alley, I figure it’s a pretty good place to collect wild berries.  I’ll just make sure to avoid the lower vines, the ones right at dog level, if you know what I mean. Definitely avoid those ones.

My family is coming home tonight, from a weekend away, and am going to try to hold back my hunger for the luscious deep purple jewel and pick enough to bake them a bubbly blackberry cobbler.  But I’ll make sure to pause from picking when I come across those perfectly ripe beautiful ones, take a deep breath and be totally in the moment while I savor the berry.  The taste and feeling comfort me and remind me of the summers of my childhood, spent exploring the woods just beyond our driveway.  Every year I come back to this, to this berry, to this memory.  It’s part of my summer tradition.  Summer would just not be the same without it.

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