11 Aug

If you are an Oregonian that doesn’t like blackberries, I’m sorry, but you can go right to hell.

There is nothing better than a blackberry picked in the height of summer, warm from the sun, ripe enough to fall off the vine into your hand and stain your fingers with purple juice.  When I was a kid, I would hold a blackberry and pick off the drupelets one by one with my front teeth, like tiny grapes.  Hot and sweet.

In Oregon, blackberries grow pretty much everywhere.  They’re a hardy fruit (surprise, not technically a berry!) and they’ll grow in the worst soil you can imagine.  Ditches, roadsides, backyards, dead people.  They’ll grow out of anything, whether you want them to or not.

As summer proceeds into High Summer, I’ve started keeping an eye out for blackberries.  There is a single vine growing out of a shrub in our apartment complex, largely ignored by my neighbors.  Every time I pass by, I take a look.  If there are any good ones, I pluck them off, examine them for bugs, and eat ’em.  This is probably a Weird Thing To Do.  That’s ok.  I would do a lot of weird things for blackberries.  You understand.

So on Friday night I got to my parent’s house, where Taylor is living for the summer.  My folks are gone fishin’, so we had the house to ourselves.  Mom and Dad have the benefit of a large, sprawling backyard, full of peach tree grafts and gopher holes, with a towering hill of blackberries in the corner, slowly usurping the unused chicken coop.  As soon as I got there, I grabbed a plastic bowl from the kitchen and went outside to pick berries, leaning over the high brambles and doing what I could not to get snagged by the thorns.  I had picked a tidy few when Taylor got home.

“Honey, I’m home!” he shouted from the deck.  He sauntered down to meet me, resplendent in a new pair of Birkenstocks.  He wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me towards the house.  I frowned at him.

“I’m very glad to see you,” I said, “but there are BLACKBERRIES out here.”

“Yes.  We should pick some tomorrow.”

“We are picking them NOW,” I said, glaring violently.

I am very serious about blackberries.  We stayed outside to pick for an extra ten minutes.

We chatted as we worked and ended up with a half bowl that we brought up to the deck.  The sun was fading.  It was warm and breezy.  Taylor was showing me a massive e-mail thread from his coworkers that had started with a small joke and ballooned into something with a mind of its own.  While he talked, I ate blackberries like a machine.  Search for the best ones.  Turn it over to check for bugs/irregularities.  EAT.  Search for the best ones.  Turn it over to check for bugs/irregularities.  EAT.  Repeat forever.

“You should slow down on those,” Taylor cautioned.  “Eat some dinner first.”

“I don’t want dinner,” I said, taking a gulp of Diet Coke.  “I want BLACKBERRIES.”

“Blackberries are going to make you feel pretty sick soon if you keep eating them like that.”

“Never.  Blackberries would never hurt me.”

With a deft swoop, Taylor reached over, snatched the bowl of blackberries out of my lap and placed it far out of reach.  I gaped.


“You are going to eat some dinner before you eat more blackberries,” Taylor said.  “I have some leftover Mexican food, you can have that.  You need some protein.”

“Fine,” I said.  “Okay.  Let’s go in.  Grab your computer.”

Taylor rose, yawning, and grabbed his own can of Diet Coke.

“Can you grab, uh…” he motioned lazily at the table.

“The blackberries?  Sure.”  I plucked them up casually.


We walked inside.  I casually dipped a hand into the bowl.

“HEY,” Taylor said.  “WAITAMINUTE.”

Cackling, I fled into the kitchen cramming my mouth full of blackberries.  By the time Taylor got in, I had thrown the bowl on the table and was holding my hands up in an expression of innocence, purple smeared on my lips.

“What?”  I said.  “Seriously.  Eat your own Mexican food.  I’m not even hungry.”

So what’s your favorite summer food?  Corn-on-the-cob?  Strawberries?  BBQ ribs?  TALK TO ME PEOPLE.


Posted by on August 11, 2010 in Uncategorized


12 responses to “blackberries

  1. Adri

    August 11, 2010 at 9:23 am

    My favorite summer food is poolside chips and salsa. Reminds me of being a kid and refusing to get out of the pool to eat. I’d get bits of salty corn chips floating around me and all the ones I’d handled would get damp. The salsa would always get hot in the sun, but I’d scarf them down anyways. Now I’m sensible, I at least dry my hands before digging into the chip bowl and keep the salsa on ice 😀

    • Jessica

      August 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm

      OH MY GOSH that sounds FANTASTIC. Somehow I never thought to combine the magic of swimming with them magic of food.

  2. Vanessa

    August 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I’d actually agree with you on blackberries being a favorite summer food. I’m also a huge fan of the raspberry. I’ve been eating blackberries a lot more, though, because raspberries are always ludicrously priced and I almost prefer them now. I have much better luck getting good ones, it seems (isn’t it the worst when you buy berries in one of those little containers and they don’t turn out as tasty as expected?)

    • Jessica

      August 11, 2010 at 11:08 pm

      You know, Laura is a fan of raspberries and I’ve never learned to like them. I keep trying though!

  3. Tess

    August 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    If you ever get a a chance to come visit me we’ll go kayaking in this slough that has blackberry bushes along it so you can pick and eat as you float along.

  4. lisa

    August 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Haha this is hilarious! Summer usually makes me crave burgers and fries, crisp salads, Mexican food (salsa, guacamole, tacos), frozen yogurt, and yummy fruit like cherries, peaches, and watermelon.

  5. Kelly

    August 11, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I have to confess that I don’t care for blackberries. It’s the texture. I live in Kentucky, though.

    I don’t know if I have a favorite summer food. Blueberries?

    • Jessica

      August 11, 2010 at 11:09 pm


      Oh, wait. Kentucky. All right. You are forgiven.

      Blueberries are pretty fantastic too.

  6. Jen

    August 12, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    BLACKBERRIES!!! Your post reminded me that I’ll be arriving in Oregon in the height of blackberry season!!! 😀 I may have to smuggle a couple flats back into California. I’m wondering how that works… There are agricultural border checks driving into the state, but when I flew two years ago, I took a flat home as my carry-on luggage. Hmmmm…

  7. Melissa

    August 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I can eat a whole pineapple every day. True story.

  8. Julia

    August 17, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Ohhh, blackberries, how I love thee. Picking blackberries down by the railroad tracks with a neighbourhood gal pal is one of my favourite summer memories. We’d often make freezer jam, which – FYI – is amazingly easy and delicious. It’s basically blackberries, sugar, and pectin, and then you stick it in your freezer and have blackberries ALL YEAR ROUND.

    On a sadder note, our big delicious blackberries are super-invasive Himalayan blackberries that take over and kill pretty much everything. Goats, however, are their mortal enemy. God only knows how goats can munch through those thorns, but they certainly manage.

  9. Becca

    August 21, 2010 at 1:27 am

    WOW sounds heavenly to be able to pick blackberries growing in the wild. Im in AZ and it is way too HOT to grow anything….except cactus!
    My favorite summer food is an assortment of berries over either vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.
    When I was a kid, I would go crazy for corn on the cob! I still like it today, but I dont eat nearly as much of it as I did then.

    PS I am loving your blog, I found it a couple of months ago and went back to read almost every post since the beginning of 2010. You have a great way of putting your thoughts out there and I smile with every post. Thanks for the happiness!


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