I live in a place where blackberries grow wild in fence rows and picking them is as easy as walking out your back door. They grow in shady spots in the protection of locust trees and scrub cedars. Every day in the cool of twilight, this time of year with a breeze and a storm brewing out of the heat of the day, I go back to the thicket and listen to the wind rustling the leaves of the locusts, the tall grasses, the wild flowers, the cedar boughs. And I think how this is the full cache of summer, the deepest, most lush and beautiful height of it, and battling the June bugs and the bees and the myriad breeds of insects, I pull berries from vines drooping black and red with plump, sweet goodness.
It is this lush thicket and the continual coming out to meet life in its abundance, moving among the humming and rustling, that I will miss most when the cold comes. I will miss thinking my own thoughts while doing the brainless work of pulling ripe blackberries from vines, promising myself a cobbler or a parfait as reward for my labor. I will miss hiding in the cover of vines and willowy locusts, watching life go by, unobserved by people in a hurry.
Most memorable and important moments in life are the result of accidents. Such was the quick reaction that sent me reaching with stealth into the pocket of my cutoff jeans to retrieve my cell phone and snap the photo of this swallowtail butterfly who came to check out the blackberries, too. Another happy accident is the concoction below, recipe included, for Gluten-free blackberry parfait made with homemade whipped cream and walnuts.
1 to 1 1/2 cups blackberries
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup water
1 cup crushed walnuts
1-2 cartons heavy cream
3-4 tsp white sugar
3 tsp brown sugar
Add half of honey to cream. Whip cream in a large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Boil blackberries in sauce pan with honey and water. Crush walnuts. Mix walnuts separately in small saucepan with brown sugar and a tablespoon of honey. Heat up for about 30 seconds on stovetop. Do not microwave. Starting with walnut mixture, spoon in layers: walnuts, blackberries, and whipped cream, repeating until filled. Top with a few walnuts.