My birthday falls during wild blackberry season.
What could be finer?
In general, I go after the thorny plants that flourish in the dappled light along our wooded paths. But I give the blackberry brambles a pass, and I accept a pretty high threshold of scratches this time of year to harvest their bounty.
Picking blackberries with my daughters is a special treat. I love to share this elemental outdoor activity with my girls who (puzzlingly to me) find they thrive best in an urban setting.
We peacefully pick our way through vigorous tangles of brambles as we stretch our red-stained fingers further and further, following one ripe cluster to the next. Occasionally the hand clippers pass around to help free anyone whose enthusiasm has led to intractable entanglement. Our conversation flows extra freely as we fill and empty the yogurt containers tied around our waists into a lidded bucket – filling it in no time – or what seems like no time.
Who cares about clocks when following a path that feels positively primordial? We are seeking out and enjoying the generous fruits of nature just like our primate forbears did. There is something deeply satisfying in that.
Other mammals cannot see the difference between red and green as we can. Scientists speculate this is because primates with the mutation to see when fruit is red and ripe had a big advantage over those who couldn’t.
We primates have three different types of light-sensitive cone cells in out eyes rather than the two that other mammals have – a fact I appreciate every day – but even more so when I’m spotting that perfectly ripe, deep blue blackberry, while noting its red neighbors so I can come back soon for them.
Picking in solitude is a special treat. I love spotting a berry, leaning in for it and then spying others farther off the trail. The precise focus I employ when berry hunting opens up new worlds in the woods for me. I find myself exploring tiny microcosms where I have never stood by stepping off the beaten path.
Back in the kitchen, I delight in putting up of blackberry jam using the minimal amount of sugar. http://www.pomonapectin.com I love these several special weeks when there is always a big bowl of wild berries in the fridge waiting to add to cereal, yogurt and waffles. (They are particularly wonderful mashed up and spooned onto a quarter of a cantaloupe! I consider this my July treat supreme.)
Talk about good and good for you — the nutrient list for blackberries goes on for paragraphs: vitamin C, soluble and insoluble fiber, and antioxidant compounds that protect against aging, inflammation, cancer, and other neurological diseases. They are also credited with boosting cognition (give me a double helping of that, please).
What’s your favorite thing about wild blackberries?