Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beloved Blackberry Pie

One of my objectives when I first moved from New York City to a small home in New Jersey more than twenty years ago was to have a backyard in which my three children could play. My other goal was to plant tomatoes. While living in a Manhattan apartment I really missed getting my hands in the soil, so when we bought our modest home, space to plant was one of my requirements.
            We had purchased the house in a snowy January, and by late March, when we were fully settled (more or less), I began to scout the grounds to see what might pop up. There were some adorable blue flowers on the front lawn and a vine that looked like it might be wisteria (alas, it was not). But in the back, there was something truly unsettling. Once the snow melted I discovered a huge bramble patch. The thorny, unattractive thicket looked like it had stepped out of a fairy tale; I almost expected a young prince to show up and hack his way through to a lovely maiden.
            My first impulse was to dig that sucker up. But then, I thought, “What in the world could it be?” Surely the people who had lived in the house prior to us would not have left such an eyesore in the middle of the property.
            So I waited and waited and then I sort of forgot about the bramble patch until one day in mid-May when I decided to plant my tomatoes and stepped outside to find a gorgeous green thicket topped with beautiful white flowers. The bramble patch had come into bloom! Still, I didn’t know what the heck it was.
            So I waited some more, and soon enough it appeared that berries were growing where the flowers had been, and by July 4th I had a bumper crop of ripe, beautiful blackberries, the most delicious berries I’d ever tasted. That very first year, after we had gorged on the fresh berries, I made my first blackberry pie; this has been my tradition ever since,
            Obviously, there’s a moral to this story, and it’s not just “don’t dig everything up if you buy a new house” (though that is wise). The larger concept involves patience and letting go of expectations. Had I not waited, and had I not let go of my negative thoughts, I would have missed out on an incredible gift.
            This is true in so many situations. We may indeed think, upon first glance, that someone or something is virtually worthless, an eyesore, a nuisance. But in time, we may be pleasantly surprised.  Sometimes, folks, we must wait for the gifts to manifest, trusting that one day the bramble patch will indeed burst into glorious flower.
*Last year, as a little addendum to this tale, our town’s property inspector issued me a ticket for having “weeds” in my backyard. I called the good fellow, and dragged him up to my house on the hill, took him out back and informed him that those “weeds” would soon become beautiful blackberries. He looked surprised, but he cancelled the fine. Needless to say, however, I was ready to go to the Supreme Court if necessary to defend my beloved blackberry patch. Imagine telling my kids, "And you shall have no pie!"?!

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