The tune of summer changes every year; from snapping string beans with Mom on the porch, to picking blackberries with my family until we are silhouettes in the darkness.
Lately, the melody of the evening is the metronome of right foot, left foot, and whir of tires on pavement. As the daylight grows thin, Amber and I hop on our bikes and traverse the neighborhood, making frequent stops for blackberries. We can’t help it. We try to navigate different paths on each ride, but it seems with every turn down every new road, there are blackberry bushes beckoning to be sampled.
Blackberry. There is no word in the English language that can send my mind in so many directions. Every summer, my mouth starts watering just thinking about those black-pearled beauties ripening.
I grew up harvesting blackberries every summer from an enormous bush nestled in a seasonal creek on my family’s property. Well-versed in the ways of blackberry picking, I know that harvesting blackberries is not a test of speed; its as leisurely an event as watching the grass grow. Precious time must be taken to indulge in taste testing. Amber and I quietly pluck berries as cars pass behind us, filled with smiling passengers.
The scenery may be different, and I may be 20 years older, but I feel like a kid again, toeing the edge of the bush and stretching for the largest and ripest berries that seem to always be just out of reach. And I do just as I did as a kid, and look for the ones that are evenly ripe and come off as easily as tugging on a loose thread. I hold the berry between my thumb and forefinger, blow to remove the dust and particles and pop it like candy. I love to press the berry to the roof of my mouth with my tongue rather that biting down, allowing for the sweet and puckery juice to coat my mouth.
My craving for blackberry pie hangs on my tongue and is teased with each berry-stained bite. The only thing missing is Mom’s homemade vanilla ice cream. I absolutely love blackberries, simply for the memories attached to the juicy, purple fruit that stains my hands with a violent, violet tint. My sister fell in the bush one summer evening while attempting to get the larger, darker berries deep within the thorn-filled bush. She wailed until the very last thorn was pulled from her body.
Nostalgia takes its purest form in the brambles and tastes like my childhood. Amber and I ride home with just enough light left in the sky to expose our purple fingers and gluttonous grins.
***The quickest way to a blackberry fix in our house was what Mom called an impossible pie. As a kid, I didn’t understand why it was called impossible when it obviously was, because Mom made them all the time; blackberry impossible pie, peach impossible pie; I ate them all, and can assure you they ARE possible. ***
Making one is really quite simple; all you need to buy a box of Bisquick.
Take about a cup of Bisquick, sugar to taste, and enough milk so that it’s like pancake batter. Mom’s secret is to add a touch of cinnamon in the batter as well. Put the batter in a greased pie pan. In a bowl, toss blackberries with a bit of sugar to taste and place on top (if you have tapioca, put in a tablespoon or so to thicken the juice from the fruit). Bake at 350 for about a half hour, until the batter changes places with the fruit and is golden. (I guess that’s the “impossible” part. Serve hot.