Blackberries

Looking for blackberries, old Folgers cans in our hands, we'd walk together down Happy Lane.

Looking for blackberries, old Folgers cans in our hands, we'd walk together down Happy Lane. August on California's north coast was when the fruit had finally moved from tiny white flowers, to sour red bumpies, to the dark juicy buttons, tangy sweet, that plunked in the can and stained our fingers deep red.

Cans full, we'd return home, to grandma in the kitchen. We'd present the berries, she'd accept them with little comment. And set to work. We'd leave her to her alchemy in the kitchen, the Giants game playing on a cheap transistor radio that accompanied her everywhere. Soon we'd hear the thump of the rolling pin.

It was a simple pie, it would never make it into a cookbook or magazine, a thin crust, lightly browned, oozing warm berry goodness. But we'd eat all the pie, scooping out the remainder of the juice with a spoon, then licking the aluminum pan till it gleamed.

I rarely find blackberry pie now; more likely to spot the berries on compote or sauced up on a hunk of meat. But when I do, it makes me think of those windy, warm August days. And I see grandma, out to find us, standing in a field of dry brown grass, the blades swaying in the wind, like a choir's arms raised toward heaven.

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