A few years ago, my husband, Richard, and I were driving through Sonoma Valley, California, on a winery crawl. I spotted something in my peripheral vision.
"STOP THE CAR!"
Richard pulled over and I jumped out and headed for the shrubbery. Richard took this photo a moment later.
Blackberries! Let's get a closer look at that technique.
I adore berries, especially ones I pick myself. In a previous life, I was part of a hunter-gatherer clan. I would openly mock the hunters ("One measly deer! Look at my baskets of googooberries!") and go into a deep depression when there was nothing to gather other than wool. I grew up in Vermont and would spent most of August on an old logging road, fighting my way through the brambles, filling bucket after bucket with blackberries. I pushed deeper and deeper into the woods, venturing far from home in search of new stands to harvest, a diminutive Vasco da Gama bent on filling the ship's hulls with fruit for her queen. Or to sell at a roadside stand for a buck a pint.
Here I am taking a break from berry picking to exercise my faithful steed.
I can't help myself even now. Our little piece of paradise in Virginia is solid berries at the moment, and they beckon me. Yesterday I picked three quarts of wineberries and blackberries. Wineberries are new to me. They were introduced from Japan and were supposed to hybridize with the local raspberries. But the wineberries weren't looking for a little casual pollen exchange. They wanted, and achieved, domination. They look innocent, all jewel-toned and shiny, but watch out.
I made jamelly. That's jam without the seeds, or jelly with the pulp, depending on how you look at it. Aren't they gorgeous? They haven't quite set yet, but I'm hopeful.
Although berries are my favorite, I brake for all manner of roadside snacks. While out on a run this spring, I spotted some wild asparagus. Richard said, "Are you really going to run home carrying three asparagus stalks?" After fifteen years, he has to ask?
The attraction is, in part, the directness of the experience. Our usual way of obtaining food is to get an education, land a job, collect a paycheck and spend it at the grocery store. Phew! Nothing like crossing your yard to pick some berries (or harvest something from your garden) to cut to the chase.
Happy berry picking, everyone!
Next time: The Kitchen Reveal!