Remembering Blackberry Season (and Myself)

A small cluster of ripe and unripe blackberries. These are a domestic variety – wild blackberries have small spines in the fruit.

Em Claflin, Staff Writer

I’ve always been somewhat of an outdoorsy person. Growing up in the woods just on the outskirts of Conway, I was surrounded by the sights and sounds (and smells) of the Natural State. I remember spending balmy summer days out in the woods around my house, aimlessly wandering through the trees, carefully hopping across gently flowing creeks, and cursing the briars and thorns I frequently stumbled into. I joined the Scouts of America in Grade 6 and stayed for five years, which only deepened my love for the woods I called home.

My love of nature didn’t just come from traipsing about through the trees, though. What I loved, more so than almost anything else in the whole wide world was blackberry season. Every year (more or less), in late spring, the dull green of the brambly bushes that lined our gravel roads would give way to a sea of brilliant white flowers. Once the bees had their fill and the petals floated away, little bright red berries would appear in their place. Over the summer, they grew plump, their cherry red color gradually fading into a jet black, until finally, just as autumn began to draw near, the harvest could begin. For the next couple of weeks, I would wander around the property and pluck off blackberries that were just a little bit unripe, since I liked my berries a bit tart and not mushy. My sisters would take me to my uncle’s garden, which was only a five-minute walk from our house, to pick the blackberries he had grown. No matter how many berries I picked, however, I could never make it home with more than a few handfuls – I just couldn’t resist snacking on them on the walk back.

As I got older, however, I lost my excitement for Blackberry season (among many other things). My annual trips into the woods to gather berries became little more than a passing memory, and the berries that I once looked forward to all year were left to rot on the bush. Apart from my camping trips with my scout troop, I had all but stopped going outside. I’ve gotten a bit better about forcing myself to go outside and get away from the stuffiness of my room, but I still can’t help but feel that a large piece of who I am, or at least who I was growing up, is sealed away. This year, that is going to change. This year, when the blackberries are ripe, I am going to return to my old stomping grounds.

I don’t know exactly what this will do for me. Maybe I’ll find the childlike wonder and love for the world around me that I’ve missed. Maybe it’ll just be a fun look back at a childhood that is growing ever more distant. Maybe I’ll end up losing interest and going home early or talking myself out of it entirely. Regardless, I want to at least try to recapture some of the joy that those summer days from not so long ago gave me. I think that we could all use a bit of that.