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SUMMER MEANT BLACKBERRIES


blackberries 2 It had been a long time since I had picked Oregon blackberries. Getting tangled in the thorny bushes and scratches on your arms and avoiding hungry bees is part of the fun of trying to fill a pail with the biggest juiciest berries you can get at. It was early in the summer, but the weather was warm, and my mother and I had decided that a blackberry pie would taste pretty good with dinner if we could find enough.

In long-ago years, during the War, I had walked along these back roads alone, picking and eating and not realizing at the time what a gift Mother Nature had given us. In those days I knew all the hidden places berries could be found, but it had been a long time, and now on this return visit, I saw that my mother had discovered new places.

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As we crossed the highway to get to the pasture we passed Uncle Jean’s old barn which was still standing, though a good winter would probably bring it down. He kept two or three milk cows there, and when I came visiting, he would sometimes take me down to milk them. The old smell was still there, and it seemed as if I could hear them shuffling around waiting to be milked. I can still hear my uncle’s toothless French accent warning me “Darlin’ stay away from behind Bessie. She kicks.”
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The pasture was close to the Rogue River, and if you stood in just the right place you could see the river and part of the rock quarry which had been owned by my Dad’s cousin. I often swam in that cold river trying to outdo my two older boy cousins who always bested me in nearly everything. They challenged me to hop on water skis for the first time one day and were flabbergasted when I actually got up and rode all the way to the dam without falling. They bet me I couldn’t do it again, but since I now had nothing to prove I didn’t take their bet, and I never got on water skis again.

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I don’t remember how many berries we picked that day, or if there ever was a berry pie made that night, but sitting in that pasture with my mother, with an errant butterfly hopping a ride on a summer wildflower, and watching a mashed potato cloud passing overhead now and then, made me tell her, “You know, I feel as if I’ve come home again.”

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10 comments on “SUMMER MEANT BLACKBERRIES

  1. Lovely story. I bet the pie was great too. Ah, the simple things in life.
    A blackberry now is something electronic with buttons and it gets frozen.

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  2. Beautiful memories, Kayti. So sensuous and delightful. x

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    • My feet occasionally get treated to a trip down Memory Lane!  The surprise about that memory is that I had only lived in that area for less than a year during the War, yet on that particular day, it DID feel like home.

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  3. Those Oregon rivers and the valleys they run through are absolutely beautiful. We picked blackberries last summer, but we ate too many and didn’t have enough left for a pie!

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  4. A lovely evocative tale, I was there with you!

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  5. I’m only now beginning to catch up with you, but it certainly was worth coming by to visit. Your tale took me back to my own childhood, and its sweet delights. We had no blackberries, but we had rhubarb and strawberries and then, a bit later, trees laden with cherries.

    The mention of the Rogue River gave me a bit of a start. It’s one of those names that evokes wilderness, the “west” – all of the romance of far away that even today I’ve hardly explored. When I lived in California I didn’t explore much of Oregon, but I did get as far north as Gold Beach – where the Rogue River meets the sea! I still have some beautiful dark grey pebbles with white lines running through them that I picked up there – they’re living in a cactus pot.

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    • I loved hearing from you. I was not able to comment on your last post showing artists, Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keeffe. I can’t add anything better than all the other comments, but wanted you to know how very much I liked it. I look forward to each of your blogs. I love the flow of your writing. I live in the Bay Area. My Dad was born and raised on the Rogue, and ended up in Brookings, which you had o go through going to Gold Beach. Which BTW, is where a cousin lived for some time before moving to Grants Pass. Nice to see that others actually know where the Rogue River is! Thanks for reading.

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