Monday, August 18, 2008

Berry Good

For the past few days here in the Pacific northwest it has been in the high 90's to low 100's with about 300% humidity (no that's not a typo, it just felt that way). Kind of that nasty sticky hot where you dread having to do much in the way of outdoor activity. Today though has marked quite a swing. It only managed to get up to sixty-eight degrees with what do you think? That's right, we've never seen that stuff around here before. Oh well, I guess I wouldn't be a true American if I didn't complain about the weather.

One good thing did come from our recent "heat wave". The blackberries behind my house have started to ripen. This is one of the treats of summer I really enjoy; going twenty feet outside my door and having an endless supply of berries to munch...yummmmm!!

I've loved eating blackberries in a cobbler, over ice cream or "au naturalle" ever since I can remember. In fact, some of my very fond memories are from when my grandmother (Psycho Mom's mother) and I would break out the metal canoe and traverse the irrigation canals through the rice fields at the duck hunting club where she and grandpa lived. We'd pile into the canoe and tool up and down the waterways scooping up handfuls of the luscious fruit as we went. The stalks would arch high above the earthen banks until the weight of the berries would cause the tips of them to pull back towards the water making it quite literally, "easy pickings".

It's funny, I'm sure it was ridiculously hot while we were out there, but I honestly don't recall that part of it. I just remember feeling like we were great adventurers out on a quest to retrieve the golden prize, and in a way perhaps we really were, because the prize that we found, at least for me, has been a cherished memory for some thirty-five or so years.

The sense of smell, and to a lessor degree taste, are two things that can bring back a flood of memories. For me, when I walk out into my back yard in mid August after a spell of warm weather, the smell of ripe berries wafting through the breeze takes me back to a simpler time, back to the Tulle Goose Duck Club. Then, as I pop that first berry into my mouth, I'm whisked back to the living room of grandma and grandpa's house where I can once again taste a warm blackberry cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it.


These pictures are from my place. In this first one you might notice the nice clearing before the "hedge" of berry bushes. When we moved in, these came almost up to our back fence. After several battles with them over the years, I've managed to keep them at bay nearly sixty feet from the yard.

In this one if you replaced the grass with an irrigation canal full of water, you'd have a feel for what grandma and I would have seen from our canoe.

Ahaaaa...the prize!

This was dessert last night.


Lady in red said...

mmmmm I really should do this, it must be at least 16 years since I did

Hammer said...

I remember picking wild berries when I would hike around and jump fences. I ate all I could and carried the rest home in my baseball cap.

I don't remember the heat bothering me back then either.

Jeni said...

This post really brings back loads of memories for me -picking huckleberries, raspberries, blackberries in the summer and enjoying pies, cobblers and even jam or jelly that my Mom and Grandma would make from them too! How appropriate that your post had to do with dessert today cause I made your Mom's Cherry-pineapple dump cake on Saturday and the family all loved it! Thanks again for the recipe and also for the good memories this post brought up for me.

Gledwood said...

Ooo. The weather sounds drastically inconvenient down your "neck" of the woods... over here we only get conditions like that on the dreaded London Underground. Rush hour makes it unbearable. Especially as rush hour seems to last from 4pm till past 7 these days...

Hey those blackberries look like they belong in Harrods. How on earth did you find ones so posh? I see what they mean now, the stereotypical Yank parping on about how everything's bigger and better their side of the pond. If your blackberries are anything to go by it's quite true!

Yeah I'm a Brit. And thoroughly fed up of living in such a crappo country with a crappo prime minister...


Dana said...

One of the things I miss about the Pacific Northwest is blackberries. The thought brings back extremely fond memories of my grandfather who would stop in the middle of the freeway if he spotted good blackberry picking!

buffalodickdy said...

What a treat! I have a huge mulberry tree and what a mess- once a year!

Akelamalu said...

Blackberries growing in your garden, how lovely. I have rhubarb!

Mel said...

Grandmother's and blackberries--they DO go together, don't they?! were telling my story.
'Cept no canoe was involved....

*happy sigh*

Jeff B said...

LIR- Oh yah, you are long overdue.

Hammer- What a great picture you painted. i can see you diong that.

Jeni- I've yet to try a huckleberry. Don't know what part of the country they grow in. Hmmmmm, wondering what they taste like too.

Glad the family enjoyed the dump cake.

Gledwood- Thanks for joining in. The hot and humid weather only lasts for a few days around here. It's actually rare for it to be like that, but boy-O-boy does everybody whine when it does. You're welcome to head over to this side of the pond, but I don't know if trading a Blair for a Bush would be an improvment or not.

Dana- We certainly have no shortage of them around here. They're not a native plant, but buy how well they grow, you'd never know it.

Buffalo- Yah, but you get to sing and dance around it right? Ha

Akelamalu- Now I'm hungry for a strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Mel- They do go seem to fit perfectly.

Jay said...

We never went picking blackberries or blueberries with her, but my grandmother (and great grandmother) always had great pies waiting for us when we would go visit. And she always made sure to have the vanilla ice cream too. Those were good times.

CrystalChick said...

OH they look positively delicious!! We've gone blueberry, cherry, and other picking... but didn't come across any of those yummy berries. In the stores here they are really pricey. Send me a couple quarts, k???

katherine. said...

I want to be a gramma like that...out in the canoe picking berries!

we make our share of pie...but I forget about cobbler...hmmm

Starrlight said...

The house I grew up in had massive blackberry and raspberry hedges. There is nothing better than a ripe berry that is warm from the sun.

Bond said...

Very cool memories Jeff...thanks for sharing...

Desert Songbird said...

What incredible memories you have, Jeff. Truly treasures.

I'm envious of your fresh berries in reach. Now, hand over a bowl of that ice cream and blackberries, and no one gets hurt.

I mean it.


Sandee (Comedy +) said...

I ♥ blackberries. When I was growing up I lived in Tillamook, Oregon so I know about Oregon weather and blackberries. We had tons of blackberry bushes and I loved to pick them so my mother would make cobbler. Yummy. Thanks for the nice memories. Not the rain, but the blackberry part. Have a great day. :)

Jeff B said...

Jay- Grandma made pies beat any others hands down!

Crystalchick- Hey, better yet, come on out here and you can pick enough of them to fill a suitcase.

Katherine- That creats quite a mental picture for me... Grammy Kat.

Starlight- We certainly don't have any shortage of them around here do we?

Bond- Anytime my friend

Songbird- Memories like these are worth more than gold itself...although if you come accross a bar of it I wouldn't mind sharring it with you. (wink)

Sandee- I keep trying to remind myself that the rain is what makes everything so grre around here. do you make that heart in the comments?? If your up for sharring, I'd love to know

nitebyrd said...

Blackberries & Raspberries grew wild in the Northeast where I grew up. They also meant summer to me. Unfortunately the boxed supermarket variety just don't taste the same. Enjoy your lucious berries and lovely memories, Jeff! Thank you for sharing, if not the berries, the memories.

Ron said...

OMG Jeff...what a GREAT post!!!

What a wonderful memory!

And for me sense of smell is my strongest memory transporter. I really enjoy my sense of smell (I smell everything).

Hey...I wish you could have heard me GASP when I scrolled down to the final two photo's. My mouth started salivating. Honestly, they're the most beautiful and delectable blackberries I've ever seen.

How blessed you are to have all that in your backyard!

And listen, when I read how HOT you said it was there, I almost pooped. that normal for Oregon? The past few days here have been warm too, but tonight it's supposed to drop down real cool again!

(I may have to bring out my ski mask)

Really enjoyed this post, buddy!

Thanks for the yummy photos!

Ron said...

P.S. And I TOO had a hell of a difficult time downloading photos last night. It took me 5 tries!!!

Travis said...

I'm not a fan of blackberries, but those over ice cream really look good.

I love the canoe story. Those memories a priceless.

Unfortunately, I do remember August in the sweltering San Joaquin valley.

Marilyn said...

We had hot summers like that in Kansas but no wild berries.

Your childhood memories are yummier than mine.

Matt-Man said...

Love the berry. Any kind of berry. Cheers Jeff!!

Sandi McBride said...

Our blackberries (we have an acre of them...and they hurt like hell if you don't have on your wellies) are long gone...we enjoyed them so much. I made cobbler, put up jam and of course we ate almost as much as we picked! Smell and taste, yes, those are the memory receptors alright!!!

Jeff B said...

Nitebyrd- I honestly don't understand how the stores can peddle those tastless imitations, and then charge through the nose for them.

Ron- That weather is unusual for us. We will get a a few days around 100 in the summer, but it's not typically humid.

Travis- Thos are some hot summers down there. Good for all the farms though.

Marilyn- Bummer on both accounts. I am very fortunate to have such good memories. I know not everybody is a lucky.

Matt- Agreed. Hell even Barry White had some pretty good stuff!

Sandi- Sounds like you pick berries like I do, "one for me...two for the pot, two for for the pot..."

San said...

Jeff, blackberries are my favorite berry. And your beautiful post has elicited some of my own memories. When I was a kid, we had blackberry "hedges" at the back of our yard. In the summer between climbing in and out of the barbecue pit (it was a huge home-made job with room to explore the chimney), and journeying through the jungle of the unpruned weeping willow, we would head to the hedges for blackberry sustenance. And such sustenance!

Rhea said...

I love blackberries. I was right with you in that canoe picking berries from the branches as we went down memory waterway. You paint a beautiful picture, Jeff!

We have some cooler weather this week too. Such a nice break from the 100's heat wave.

Raven said...

What a wonderful post. I felt like I got to go along for the ride with you and your grandmother. And what a wonderful memory that is. And how cool to have berries right in your back yard like that. Way cool.

Sorry about the weather, though. We've had the mildest August here that I can ever remember. It feels like September, not August. I don't mind in terms of comfort, but it's still just kind of odd.

Jules~ said...

yum! Oh how I love those Oregon blackberries. The girls and I always pick a few bucket loads and juice it up to make our batch of jelly for the year. When I am adventurous of time, we do extra and give out as Christmas presents.

Kimmie said...

Hi Jeff!
This was a really heartwarming post. I love all kinds of berries also. Thanks for sharing with us, I enjoyed your story...and looking at your bowl of ice cream! ;-)

david mcmahon said...

Can I come round today for some of that dessert?

jennifer said...

Down here snakes love blackberry bushes. Which means that I don't go blackberry pickin'.


(The ice cream and berries looked SO good)

Jeff B said...

San- I think I could eat my own body weight in blackberries. I love 'em.

Rhea- Have you noticed that the best berries are always the ones just out of reach?

Raven- Grandma was a great lady. I do miss her. and no worries about the hot weather, it's only 65 and it's raining again. Gotta love Oregon!

Jules- Christmas presents? Remind me to send you my address.

Kimmie- It was as tasty as it looked.

David- Not only today, but for about the next three weeks. new ones keep ripening daily.

Jennifer- That's when store bought berries start looking really good!