Mr. Moon and I did go pick blackberries today. We drove to a place a few miles away where I knew there were hundreds of feet of bushes but there wasn't one berry. All dried up, all gone. We drove back to the little place right down the road where we've been picking and we got out of the air-conditioned car with our sawed-off plastic milk jugs tied around our waists and we went to work.
And oh, honey's. What work it is.
We picked in silence. We stopped now and then to drink ice water. We went back to it. We eventually spoke and both of us agreed that we were about done. DONE! It was so hot. The thorns were so cruel. The long-sleeved shirt I use to pick in has bloodstains on it. I take a piece of an old diaper with me to wipe the sweat from my face. It's unbelievably hard work, this taking of "free" food.
I listened to This American Life on my Walkman, trying to go into that place of non-feeling.
Finally, when Mr. Moon was bent over, panting in the heat, I said, "We gotta go. This is enough."
And I think we are done with the blackberry picking this year. I have about three gallons of fruit now and I have made several cobblers and a pie too. I have scared deer while picking and I have not seen one snake.
In other words, it's been a fantastic year for blackberries.
When we were at the market downtown yesterday, there were a few vendors selling domestic blackberries. The fruit was huge and I know that there had been no thorns on those bushes. They sold for four dollars a pint. When I am picking the wild ones, I think that they look like the nipples of goddesses, these berries. Some of the nipples are large and some are small, but they are all dark and sweet and full of juice. When I bring them all home and wash them I think they look like caviar. The fruit/eggs of the bush.
And tonight, as I washed my berries and put them to drain and then into a Ziplock I admitted to myself that I need to make at least a few jars of preserves. They will be seedy as hell and the seeds will get stuck in our teeth but I am not straining this fruit through cheesecloth to make it more easily eaten. I want and need to preserve the fruit in a way in which it will keep. So what if it takes work and pounds of sugar? I don't care. I have a need to cook it down, to sterilize jars, to fill them and seal them and hear the sweet sound of canning-success- that pop as the lids suck down.
And next winter I will make biscuits or bread and I will bring out a jar of those preserves and I will open it (another pop) and we will smear the sweetened fruit onto the bread and summer will have been preserved. I will close my eyes and taste the preserves and remember our summer's picking. I will taste the sweat and I will taste the blood. But there were no tears. None at all.
Mr. Moon has been working all afternoon on a Miata which which he got in trade. He came in a few moments ago and said, "Come on, drive this thing for me." It's so tiny and he's so large that he can't depress the clutch to shift gears unless he opens the door.
I am not kidding you.
So I did. I took us down the road, going through all the gears and I told him I wished I could have the car for awhile to drive. It's a convertible. It's tight, it's fast, it's darling.
But I can't. A car seat has to go into the back seat. The Miata has no back seat. But I can see Owen and me driving down the roads, the wind rushing our faces and hair, big smiles on both of our faces, he in his big-boy car seat, me in the driver's seat, the radio on the Oldies, Mick Jagger singing about Satisfaction, the sky above us, the road below us.
But I can't. It's not legal and it wouldn't be right.
I have to say though that it sort of charms me that I am the type of grandmother who has a need to pick and preserve fruit and also the type of grandmother who would love to take her grandson out on the highway, get our motors running, looking for adventure.
I'll stick to the preserves. No pun intended. I'll buy sugar at the store tomorrow when I go into town to go with Lily and Owen for his nine-month check-up. And I'll tell him stories about how when he's older we'll go through the gears in a tiny convertible, the wind washing our faces. And I'll also tell him how much he's going to love to eat pancakes and biscuits with blackberry preserves on them next winter.
Ah. It's been a beautiful weekend.
The blackberry picking is over, I drove the Miata. It's time to heat up last night's incredibly delicious eggplant Parmesan and maybe watch another episode of Northern Exposure. I've slept long hours and dreamed of giving birth this early morning to another beautiful baby girl. I caught her myself and felt every bit of the stretching, release, love.
Maybe it's all been a dream, this good, hot full blackberry moon weekend. If so, it's been a good one.
A good dream from the Church of the Batshit/Chicken Shit Crazy.