I called my grandmother yesterday. My paternal grandmother. Somehow the conversation shifted to, of all things, blackberries. She was telling me that she saw clusters of them growing along the ditch behind her retirement apartment complex. She also shared with me that she and another one of her aging friends had devised a plan on how to get to them - one that involved sliding down on their "backsides" to retrieve them. Sadly, she reported, they had withered in the heat of the sun and there weren't enough to pick to outweigh the effort. I must say I'm a little glad they dried in the sun - something tells me someone may not have made it out of that scenario on their own accord...
As she talked about those blackberries, I began to taste them in my mouth. In my backyard on Croydon Road in Montgmery, Alabama, we had wild blackberries that grew along the fence between mine and my friend Lielani's house. Every Spring, I was surprised to find them; I guess the notion that they reappeared in the same location year after year was nothing short of miraculous to a six or seven year old girl. So, I'd pick them and make an afternoon snack of them.
In this moment, I can taste the freshness of that blackberry. I can feel it in my hands - each tiny bubble of flesh plumped up in perfect little tasty rows. I can feel it on my tongue. I can see that place and feel it in my heart. Childhood. Spring afternoons in the shade of the pines in my backyard. The deliciously carefree eating of a fruit before it's washed.
Several years ago - probably six or seven - Scott, David and I had taken our boat to Lake Martin and beached somewhere to play and enjoy the sunny day. Scott wandered off toward the wooded area and emerged with a handful of blackberries. I hadn't tasted one since those days in my backyard. I was glad to find the taste hadn't changed a bit. Still delightfully sweet and tart. Still a blackberry. Still the taste of Spring and childhood all wrapped up in a little bumpy sphere.