Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hard as it is to comprehend, the Fourth of July is almost upon us, and with that, the rest of the summer will fly by. It seems that once the Fourth is over, not much remains of the season. It’s one of my favorite holidays though: parades, food, noise, fireworks and all kinds of patriotism. It’s really great, and I love it! I love being outdoors, and there is much I do like about warmer weather ó blackberries, for instance.
It’s almost time for them to be in season; oh, I don’t mean those itty bitty little boxes of them in the grocery stores, the ones that come from some far off country. No, I mean the big, black, juicy ones you can find growing along the highway or back in the bushes somewhere, everywhere in the county!Years ago, little kids used to come around, door to door, selling them or asking you to buy them if they go and pick them. Seems like they always got a goodly amount of them, too.
When I married the spouse, I was told I HAD to make blackberry cobblers; they were his favorite, and I HAD to use fresh berries ó no canned ones for this man! Usually, I’ve been able to find some around every summer. The farmers market uptown is a great place; they have them in the summer, but by the time I get there, they are often sold out.
It can be a real problem when your husband really LOVES blackberries, especially when you make them into a cobbler, just for him.
Several summers ago, I went looking for some anywhere I could find them. The farmers market was all sold out, and the ones in the grocery stores looked like tiny pebbles ó it would take a barrel full to make one pie! No, I thought, there had to be some someplace. You know me; I am determined.
Finally, I went and asked my favorite produce man where I could find blackberries. Looking around conspiritorially, he whispered that there were bunches and bunches of them behind the store, just ripe for the picking. He didn’t want to say it too loud, for fear that his customers would make a run on them.
Great, I said, when was he planning on picking them? I would be there to buy as many as I could. He gave me his brightest blank stare. Pick them? Oh no, he said, I could go out there and pick them myself; just be careful of the briars and all the delivery trucks.
I’ve been known to do some dumb things in my day, but ever the optimist, I said sure, I’d go and get them. He handed me one of the plastic bags from the holder so I could gather all the berries into that bag, and around to the back of the store I drove. It had to be upwards of 90 degrees that day, full sun, and there I was, standing on hot asphalt, between delivery trucks, wading through all the usual refuse, broken glass, and stray cats, just to pick blackberries.
He was right; the vines were loaded, and with big fat berries at that. I had picked maybe 50 berries, in bright sunshine, when it dawned on me that however much we enjoyed my cobblers, this just wasn’t worth it. What to do with 50 berries, too few for a pie, way too many to just throw away?
I did the only logical thing I could do; I picked some more!
I must have been out in that hot sun two hours or more, getting all scratched and itchy from the briars, downwind of the dumpster, but I got them. An entire bagful. Well, maybe three-fourths full.
Guarding them with my life, I hopped back in the car and took myself and my berries home. They made the prettiest, juiciest cobbler you ever saw, and we did enjoy it. After eating it one afternoon, the spouse informed me that I was not to bother with picking anymore, or getting them from the market, as the cobblers were just too rich for him. Maybe in the fall I could make him another one, he suggested.Ever had one of those times when you felt you just had to bean somebody over the head with an iron skillet?
You know that song, “What I Did for Love”? It ain’t got nothin’ on me and that berry patch!