Blackberries Revisited

I felt that same thrill—like I was getting away with something . . . —last summer when I discovered that the wall of our shared back garden was covered with blackberry bushes. Despite receiving no sunlight and poor drainage, the bush was full, and no one else was picking them.

-Michael Munnik, ‘Blackberries’
The Messy Table, 21 October 2013

So long as I’m poaching blog posts from my wife’s online column, this one also resurfaced for me in this move. The guinea pigs are about what we left. The blackberries are about what we have arrived to. When I wrote this post, nearly two years ago, I was grieving a particular loss and trying to make sense of neighbours and neighbourliness. The blackberries in our Marchmont back garden epitomised what infuriates me about the place. The blackberries on Easedale are emblematic of abundant generosity and good company.

Easedale, however, is a small island in the Inner Hebrides, a significant journey from our front door and not, therefore, an emblem we could appreciate with any regularity. Less so now that we are in Cardiff. Right coast, way wrong degree of latitude.

But it matters not: among the many virtues of the house we have moved into is a cluster of blackberries right in the back garden! My daughter was the first to spot it, and we got out with gusto to plunder what was already ripe and beautiful and black. Of course, it is only the beginning of August, so although the stock is small compared to our erstwhile Scottish riches, there are many berries yet to come. I have to chase my youngest away from them, and when we’re all picking, the elder two are good at monitoring him and reminding him that they go in the bowl, not in his gob. Best of all, as my daughter is proud to say, no one can tell us to cut them down.

Pear and blackberry pie, first fruits of our new home.My wife mixed them with pears and baked them in a pie. It was a wonderful completion to our first made meal in our lovely, sunny kitchen. And there will be more pies. This truly redeems what was broken.