The way out here

Backyard blackberries

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 9/1/21

August is a month for making memories. School starts back up and parents document the first days with admittedly more glee than their young academicians.

The final days of summer are celebrated …

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The way out here

Backyard blackberries

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August is a month for making memories. School starts back up and parents document the first days with admittedly more glee than their young academicians.

The final days of summer are celebrated with a disregard for the impending changes that inevitably catch us all by surprise sooner or later, as the annual grasp on warm weather slips through our fingers. Already I’ve begun to leave the windows open at night to let that sneaky cool fall air in.

 With everything seeming to go faster and faster, with work, the farm and of course the anticipation of everything that comes with this busy half of the year, I felt it was important to take a quiet moment with my wife and son. Having moved out of our house and into our current temporary living situation, we didn’t have our garden to go sit in.

As a kind of consolation for that, however, I discovered we had another tranquil resource along the back of our current abode. In the shade of the tree line grow swaths of bushes adorned with a very particular treat. Blackberries.

My son was not so adventurous as to wade into the vegetation to pursue the berries, since he quickly discovered that Daddy would do all his dirty work for him. This was fine with me, of course, despite the fact that I have a difficult time identifying poison ivy. I typically don’t get it and need not look out for it. So, wading through the berry bushes to keep my fair-skinned progeny out of harm’s way was hardly a sacrifice. Besides, he soon became far too busy to be bothered with picking the berries himself anyway.

When first offered a handful of the special indulgences, he hesitantly chose the best-looking berry to sample before claiming the lot in a double fistfuls, fueled with enthusiasm and impish gluttony. No sooner had I turned around to pick more berries, than he had begun to mash them into his face, slowing down only to thoughtfully masticate the accumulating seeds.

My wife was picking as well, finding the berries that I overlooked, of course, and her own desire for the blackberries akin to that of a bacon-addicted bloodhound. We weren’t out long but managed to harvest enough to satisfy my two fruit-loving companions.

The weather was only 75 degrees or so with a bit of cloud, but the humidity had us all sweating.

Having secured one last handful of edible distractions, we walked back to the house to return to our ever-waiting tasks. While we worked through them, the air conditioner did its job and my son found a nice little perch to watch me work, while he consumed the additional reserves of fresh blackberries.

I think my wife sensed the danger awaiting what few she may have saved, and promptly stashed her handful for addition to her yogurt at a later time.

If it sounds like I didn’t partake in the berries, then your assumption would be mostly correct. I had two or three, but more edifying than eating them myself was seeing my son’s face as he contemplated which ones he would eat next.

Although, to be perfectly honest, the whole 10-minute adventure left me with a slight hankering for black raspberry ice cream. I’d recently had some at the Wayne County Fair from the 4-H ice cream booth.

For any of you who also enjoy this annual treat, you may be interested to know that they make it at the Creamworks Creamery dairy farm, which is a local producer. They aren’t that far of a drive and operate a small store out front where you can purchase said black raspberry ice cream (or whatever flavor strikes your fancy).

The way out here, nothing lasts forever, whether it’s the apple trees you’ve spent years cultivating or the berry bushes you find by surprise. It’s important to seize the opportunities you come across and be open to new ones wherever life takes you. Many homesteaders live and die by subsistence living, which relies heavily on foraged and seasonal resources. I’m one of the blessed ones whose only real risk in subsistence living, for the time being, is his dessert.

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