It’s that time of year again—the blackberry patch in my backyard is laden with ripe, juicy berries. These are great eaten straight out of the patch—pick and pop into your mouth (rinse first to avoid insects, no pesticides here), or sprinkle on cereal. My three young men (and one older), however, love them baked in pie. As my youngest son, a recent college grad, pointed out the other day, “Mom, no one gets to taste berries like these!” For sure, the berries you get in a grocery store are a pale second to those we pick straight from our own patch.
Not everyone, however, appreciates the blackberry. Over the years, a number of people have suggested I dig up my “unsightly” blackberry patch. Just last year I received a citation from our town inspector for the “weeds” in my yard. Needless to say, I phoned the man and dragged him out back to see the “weeds” up close. He rescinded the citation, but nevertheless suggested we blacktop our yard so we could use our garage (well…the man had a point. Because of the blackberry patch there is no way to drive to the garage, but I prefer not to “pave paradise”).
This year, as I was baking the first of several blackberry pies, and cursing the pie dough (which I detest making, even with my husband’s help), I recalled that my mother, too, used to complain every time she made a piecrust (my niece, a pastry chef, has patiently tried to teach me, but to no avail). Just as I was lamenting this fact (I have looked into frozen pie crusts, but they just don’t taste the same, and many have unhealthy additives), a gorgeous butterfly lilted by the backdoor screen (pictured above). My mother adored butterflies, and since her passing 12 years ago, I have always taken their occasional visits as a sign. In this case, I was sure that my mother was saying, “Keep up with the pies! Yes, it’s a pain to make the crust, but treasure the moment!” In fact, when my kids were little she always used to say, “Treasure this time; these are the best years of your life.”
I’m not sure about that, as I rather think that any year I’m living is the best year ever (kind of like, as a friend once commented, any flight from which he returns is a great flight). But Mom—and my butterfly visitor—certainly had a point. Instead of complaining about baking pies in 90-degree weather (after all, I do have an air conditioner), why not revel in the joy that blackberry season is here? Why not appreciate the fact that I had the foresight NOT to dig up that unsightly bramble patch when we bought this property—that I had the wisdom to wait and see what would bloom?
Normally, I avoid sugar. But excuse me while I pour a cup of decaf and cut myself a big piece of pie. Once a year, a blackberry pie made from my own backyard is true cause for celebration. If you happen to stop by, I will give you a slice.