so seemingly small,
to the whole universe
as tiny whispers
like the sounds
of butterfly wings,
and the clear voice
of the living truth.
Last night some friends came over for dinner bearing two buckets of freshly picked blackberries, a gift of the summer. Blackberries, dark, pregnant with seeds, hold so many memories of my childhood. Growing up in West Seattle, my brother and I picked mountains of blackberries for Mom's memorable pies. It seemed that no matter how many berries we picked, she would pop yet another pie into the oven for a steady stream of heavenly desserts.
When picking in the wild, the way to tell when berries are sweet and ripe is when they feel a bit soft and easily come off the vine. Otherwise, even if they're black, they will be tart. We try to wear protective gloves and clothing without a loose weave—blackberries are notorious for pricking and sticking to sweaters. A rake can be a helpful for grabbing a vine that has the most enticing, just out of reach, plump berries.
Eat berries plain, in smoothies, or with a little cream. Here's an easy recipe to create a velvety smooth, thick Purée, from the bounty of blackberries.
Recipe for Seedless Blackberry Purée:
Ingredients (Serves 4):2 cups fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Directions:Put berries in colander or berry bowl.
Gently rinse with cold running water.
Do a final rinse with filtered water.
Put berries in blender. Do not add any water.
Blend until completely smooth.
Pour sauce into a strainer held over a serving bowl.
(Fine mesh, or tea strainers will not work—the Purée can't get through.)
Press Purée through strainer using a spatula or wooden spoon to remove seeds.
The finished sauce will be a deep burgundy color, and will be smooth and satiny, with flavors akin to perfume, sweet fruit, and flowers. If extra sweetness is desired, drizzle with a touch of agave nectar.
You can eat the Purée as is, like a pudding, or pour over other fruits such as apples, blueberries, or strawberries. It's equally delicious with frozen banana ice cream!
Another option is to juice the berries with apples for a deep drink of summer.
A Little Story: Brother Bee & the Berry Patch
Here in the Northwest, blackberries are an unstoppable force and push up from the earth, arriving everywhere—sometimes a gardener's bane, although we often see the deer eating them. Blackberries strike me as being a primal, female plant with their abundance of seeds, flowers, fruity flavors, sweet perfume, and protective thorns... and because they emerge from the darkness of the earth.
The blackberries that our friends brought reminded us of another day when Rex and I picked berries along a dreamy island road on a sloping hillside studded with old fir, maple, and pear trees. It was quiet and warm, with a gentle breeze coming off the Haro Strait, with the Olympic mountain range hovering over a calm and lazy sea. Rumor had it that these berries were the best on the island, and they proved to be truly delicious. We weren't sure what to do with them other than gobble them up on the spot.
There was a fat, black and yellow bee near us, deep in the berry patch, and I heard this little buzzing sound, which came and went, and it struck me as the most delightful bee talk! After a pause the buzzing resumed, along with the same impression of bee talk, which went, to my ears, something like this: "Well, I think I'll go to this flower. And oh, there's another a lovely flower! And now I'll go over there to that flower, and oh, there are so many flowers! And now, well, I'm here!"
It was a perfect moment of simplicity and peace. Then, just as fast as our reverie had started, the ground shifted underfoot, becoming unstable, and I got pricked—a sign. Suddenly it seemed like we'd taken enough. The earth was letting us know.