Reason number 17,000 to live in Northern California:
Picking wild blackberries! Perhaps it should actually be a little higher up. Like, say, reason number six to live in NorCal. After wine country, but before being able to wear flip flops to any event.
Oren and Andy and I went picking on Sunday afternoon. Usually, blackberry picking is a serendipitous bonus while hiking or riding bikes. And, indeed, a gift for spotting the little guys from the road/trail/outer space seems to run in the family. But this time, we set out with the sole purpose of picking loads of berries, so we trekked (drove) out to a spot near Joaquin Miller park where we had last year stumbled upon the holy grail of berry patches. To our delight, it was still there.
I’m not sure how much we fruit picked. Not quite as much as the little Asian man who showed up after us with an eight-gallon bucket, for sure, but more than one ever buys at the store. And far tastier. And, really, you have to count all the ones that end up not in the containers, but in your stomach. Andy pointed out that if we had all been working for the same amount of time that we spent picking, we probably could have afforded more berries from the store than we picked on that roadside. But, oh, the satisfaction of fingers and tongues stained a bloody blackberry crimson, of well-earned pricks and scratches all over your arms, of Tupperware full–as it was meant to be–with sun-warmed berries, of the anticipation of pies and tarts and jelly.
So I suppose my point is this: While it is lovely to have aromas and hints of blackberry in your wine, it is far nicer to have several ripe blackberries in your mouth.
And now, to the pie crust.