Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Blackberry Blues

In May of 1992, wild blackberry vines began to grow next to my backyard fence.  For two weeks I mowed them down, regarding them as a nuisance.  The vines were persistent and, by default, I decided to let them grow.  They flourished and began to bloom.

My son, Jeremy, soon noticed them and asked what they were.  Being a person who loves to tell a story, I not only told him what they were but I told him of my boyhood adventures picking blackberries and of blackberry pies; how good they smelled when they were baking in the oven; and how warm and sweet and juicy they tasted when they were served.

Jeremy's eyes widened as he swallowed and licked his lips.  After that, each day I would see him checking the vines looking for the red berries that had turned black.  As we would pick the berries he would ask, "Do we have enough for a pie?"

We didn't get enough berries that summer.  So, Jeremy waited.  All fall and winter we would walk over to the vines and I would tell him about my boyhood blackberry picking and of blackberry pies.

As the spring arrived the vines began to grow and bloom.  We watched and waited each day for the berries to appear.  Each day, as I walked into the house from work, Jeremy would meet me at the door with a blackberry report.  Soon the bloom turned to red berries and the red to black and we began to pick them.  Each day we would pick a small bowl full and dump it into a larger bowl.

"When that bowl is full we will make a pie," I told him.

Slowly the bowl filled.  Each night before going to bed, Jeremy would open the refrigerator and look the bowl; staring at it wishfully.

The bowl finally filled.  Jeremy watched as Melanie, my wife, prepared it and put it in the oven.  He sat in the kitchen, breathing in the smells.

As I entered the kitchen from outside, Jeremy yelled to me, "Mama made the pie!  Mama made the pie!"

After supper, we stood watching as Melanie brought the pie from the oven.  Jeremy was dancing with anticipation.  " I get the first piece!" he shouted to his sister, Erin.

"I don't care," grunted Erin, "all I want is the crust."

Melanie scooped the pie from the pan and into Jeremy's plate.  The smell of it was as I remembered.

"Let it cool a bit before you eat it," cautioned Melanie.

Jeremy blew on his fork then put the contents into his anxious mouth.  The light in his eyes immediately went out.  His face contorted.  He swallowed hard, then drank a glass of milk.

"What's the matter?"  I asked.

"It doesn't taste good." said Jeremy.

I tasted it.  It tasted just like I remembered.  "It does taste good.  Give it another try."

He tried again, with the same result.  "I'll just eat the crust," he said.

After everyone had left the table, I sat alone looking at Jeremy's plate.  It was filled with blackberries.  I tasted them.  They were warm, and juicy, and sweet.  Just like when I was a boy.  And I ate them all.

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