by Christine Baker
If you had asked me what I wanted to be when I was growing up, I would never have told you a wife and momma that spends her summer evenings putting up fruits and vegetables from the garden. But thank goodness, God doesn’t answer all our childhood whims, because even though I never dreamed of flowers, shrubs, fruits, bushes and vegetable gardens, I sure couldn’t see life without them now, especially summertime in Louisiana when the blackberry bushes bloom.
Nothing says summer like blackberries. Growing up, my family would take a ride to Turkey Creek to visit my Dad’s older sister, my Aunt Lily. He always called her to make sure she knew he was coming and to see what she was going to make him to eat. In the summertime, it was usually a fruit cobbler. My favorite was her blackberry, topped with a big spoonful of homemade vanilla ice cream. I would eat it barefoot, sitting on a tire swing, overlooking the prairie lands arrayed with cattle.
Blackberries are native to Louisiana and grow wild along fences and in forests. They can also be planted in yards and gardens and produce quite an abundance of fruit with very little effort. I hear many varieties are available now, some with thorns and some without. The fruit from the blackberry bush is best for making jelly, cobblers and wine, or eating straight from the vine. Blackberry picking can be a little hazardous and messy so wear gloves, a long sleeve shirt, and carry along a large bucket or two.
My yard contains three blackberry bushes, compliments of my Dad. I remember years ago when my husband and I lived down south and had just bought our first home, we thought we had won the lottery. But in reality, it was just a little brick fixer upper. It wasn’t long before my Dad did what all good Dad’s do, he passed along a cutting from his very own blackberry bushes to my husband who planted and tended them with care.
My Dad’s been gone eleven years now, and every late spring/early summer, I wait for his blackberry bushes to bloom. We have three of them off his one cutting that my husband moved and transplanted from down south to our home here in Cenla. When the blackberry bushes bloom, my family’s mouths water and their lips get to smacking at the thought of the sweet dessert at the end of Louisiana’s hot, humid summer days.
But to me, when the blackberry bushes bloom, I’m reminded of my father’s love, an abundant love that lives on every year, producing a bountiful crop of goodness for me and my family to enjoy for years to come.
Check out your local farmer’s market. The blackberry bushes are in bloom.