One of my favorite things about summer is the picking of wild blackberries. The activity comes to mind inseparable from the Camus glare and suffocating heat of the Sacramento summer. On days when the forecast wagged the warning finger of triple digits the kids and my pregnant self might have only made it as far as the railroad tracks where an unlikely bramble supported our habit twice-weekly with ease. The berries were always a little tannic with dust and warm on the tongue.
Well, I thought this particular summer activity was to be left consigned to visits to Grandma’s. However, I have been delightfully surprised with the abundance of blackberry bushes we’ve discovered around San Francisco.
One of the reasons I love this city is that I am a nature lover and a city lover, and San Francisco is delightful in paradoxically obliging on both fronts. I see the ocean from the top of my block. Hikes are within walking distance. And between the buildings across the street I can watch the prehistoric eucalyptus groves of the presidio form an insufficient dam against the fog.
And they even have blackberry bushes. We’ve been eating our way around the city. I could lead a tour. We hoisted the kids up along the low walls backed by bushes on Lyon street running down to the marina. We ate our way up the hill of Buena Vista Park, sucking thorn fragments out of our purple fingers when we made it to the top and each of us declared in turn that we were definitely taller than the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. And the bushes near China Beach made James and I look at each other with wide eyes when each bite surprised us first with a salty burst.
And the most impressive thing is not how many berries we’ve already picked in June but how many there are going to be. The only thing better than a sweet warm blackberry are a cluster of ten perfect green ones behind it.
And so, in honor of summer and in celebration of a continued tradition that managed to survive the move to “Urbia” in the face of unlikely odds I charge you to forage and to enjoy this song by my talented friend Rachel Wagner.
Great minds share a fascination for the black that stains violet and the thorn that brings joy. Don’t they, Rachel?