Is it really this time of year already? Ripening blackberries and
shortening days… I can hardly believe that it is August already.
The four of us spent yesterday evening picking blackberries until just before bedtime. We
ended up with quite a haul, with four focused berry pickers. Jasper
joined us, not sharing his harvest but walking along and nibbling the
low berries off for himself.
Being out picking blackberries brought back a flood of memories of my grandpa. He would punch a hole in the top edge of an old coffee can and twist through a piece of wire. Suspending his bucket from the belt loop of his blue work pants, his hands were free to pick double-speed.
My grandpa and I picked side-by-side for hours in the summers after my grandma died. The skin on his hands, thin with age would snag on the brambles. The backs of his hands were always peppered with blood by the time we got back to his truck. He'd pull out a threadbare blue handkerchief and wipe it away. "Doesn't hurt," he would say.
My grandpa once confided in my mom that he'd finally met his berry-picking match in me. "She out-picked me!" he remarked.
These timeless tasks – foraging, knitting, baking, gardening – connect us with those before. For me these are our culture. Our heritage.