Blackberries in All Their Heavenly Glory

I naturally think of the world in terms of metaphors, and blackberry season is a thread that’s wound all through my adult life. Twenty years ago, we moved into our house – essentially a hunting camp then – on a clay-soil Vermont hillside with little else of human life around. On a woods road behind the house, I discovered a blackberry thicket. I see my younger self, picking alone in those brambles, wearing an old red t-shirt and darted at by hummingbirds, afraid of the bears who had clearly enjoyed their share of the wild harvest.

My daughters and I easily picked a quart last evening of exceptionally sweet and juicy berries. Some years, the berries are seedy and hard; some years, the vines are nearly absent of fruit; others, like this one, go on and on for weeks, delicious, wild, there for the gathering.

One year, I pulled a long thorn from my young daughter’s sandal. Her tiny heel released a single drop of crimson blood. Through all these seasons, here’s been the berries, various as our own family dynamics – generous or bitter, depending on the season – but invariably returning. Isn’t that metaphor enough?

Here’s a Galway Kinnell one-liner:

I love to go out in late September among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries to eat blackberries for breakfast, the stalks very prickly, a penalty they earn for knowing the black art of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries fall almost unbidden to my tongue, as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words like strengths or squinched, many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps, which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well in the silent, startled, icy, black language of blackberry – eating in late September.


Photo by Molly S.

About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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4 Responses to Blackberries in All Their Heavenly Glory

  1. PipTanager says:

    Mmm yes abundant memories of blackberry picking! Getting all scratched up is part of the relationship, part of the give and take.

  2. Long sleeves are a good idea, too….

  3. I actually just had my first wild and cultivated blackberries this year. I have to admit that they’re not my favorite – in taste or texture. (But I enjoyed your thoughts about them!) I’m hoping for a second red raspberry crop.

  4. No doubt, raspberries are the best, but blackberries baked into a tart with maple syrup and eaten with whipped fresh cream are nearly unbeatable….

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