Now that the girls are asleep, I am sitting at the computer downloading pictures off my camera. I haven’t done this in a while, so there are a lot…and I have found some pictures that have inspired this post. The pictures put a smile on my face as I recalled memories of this summer, but summers passed as well.
This post is about blackberries (not the smartphone, the fruit!) Blackberries grow wild in the summer in so many places in Seattle…in your backyard, on a fence in an alley, along leafy vegetated edges on the Burke Gilman Trail, and even at our neighborhood playground…which brings me to my story.
It was a warm August summer evening in Seattle in the summer of 2009. After swimming lessons, my oldest daughter and I walked out of the recreation center towards our car in the parking lot. As we walked, we passed a forested area that had vines with big blackberries on them. My daughter (then 3 years old) asked, “What are those momma?”. “Blackberries” I responded. “Can we eat some?” she asked. I paused to think about it…”Sure, why not?”
I picked one and ate it. (Yes, I can already hear some gasps…I ate it without washing it.) It was plump, juicy and the perfect balance between sweet and sour. My daughter reached to grab her own. “OUCH!” She didn’t realize the tempting fruit had prickly thorns on the stem. I carefully grabbed the end of a vine to show her the thorns and then she gently picked a blackberry off the end and she popped it in her mouth. A big smile spread across her face. We were hooked.
Last summer my mom was visiting us here in Seattle. We went to our neighborhood playground on one of her first days here. One end of the playground has a path next to a wooded area about an 1/8th of a mile long. As my daughter rode her bike past the wooded area, she spotted some blackberries and raced over to me. “Momma, can I eat some blackberries?” “Sure” I said.
She got off her bike, took my mom by the hand and they went over to try some. “These are yummy Momma. Can we make something with them?” For some reason the first thing that came to my mind was a song by a local singer/song writer, Johnny Bregar, titled “Blackberry Pie”…and thanks to one of my Mark Bittman “How to Cook Everything” cookbooks, a new tradition was born. (Never mind that I had never made a pie or a pie crust before!)
The summer of 2011 was not so great here in Seattle. The warm and sunny weather started late (mid-July) and it was cooler and moister than it normally is. When we checked for blackberries in early-mid August, they were nowhere near ripe. The end of summer got busy, and then I just forgot about the blackberries…until a friend at work mentioned that she was looking for ideas of things to make with some blackberries she had picked.
So this year it was not until one Saturday afternoon in mid-September, after I put the baby down for her marathon nap and left darling hubby at home with her, I headed to the playground with my big girl to pick blackberries. It was wonderful.
We got to spend quality one-on-one time which seems rare these days now that she doesn’t commute with me (she started Kindergarten this year). I also loved watching her excitement as we dropped more and more blackberries into our jug and the white bottom became covered in a clumpy sea of blackish-purple. And making the pie crust was just as fun. Now that she is older she loves to help me measure ingredients, pour, mix, and roll out dough.
I can’t decide what was the best part of all…the chance to slow down and enjoy nature with my big girl, the opportunity to show her the different things we can do and create with our hands, or the “MMMMMM” and big smile from everyone’s faces as we ate blackberry pie after dinner. As I see it, any way you cut it, life is good.
What about you…do you have any fond memories of fruit picking, pie making, or a new ritual you started with your child(ren)?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Eva Fannon. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon and Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/evafannon. Photo credits to the author.