On a whim, I sought out a pick-your-own farm near where we live because I have been craving fresh blackberries. They are plentiful in the produce section at the supermarket right now, but those aren’t the berries that make dreams come true. Last summer I picked wild blackberries in Washington State on the side of the road near my great-aunt’s home. They were some of the best I’ve ever eaten. A few weeks ago we found a farm stand with Oregon blackberries that were sweet and juicy as could be. We ate then straight from the blue paper carton, our fingers stained deep purple for several days following. Those berries were marvelous, but what I was needing, what I was lacking, was getting tangled up in the branches and leaves as I searched for the perfect, warm-from-the-sun berries.
We drove to the farm – big busy roads became a two lane highway with corn as tall as buildings along the side and the sent of fresh cut hay wafting into the windows. We sang at the top of our lungs to our favorite Idaho songs and watched the farms whizz by. The road started to twist and turn and we found ourselves on a dusty road with hand painted signs directing us where to go. The stand looks abandoned, but as soon as the dust settled and our rambunctious kids flung open their doors, the farmers (husband and wife) were there to greet us.
Everyone we’ve met in Idaho has been friendly. Literally everyone. This couple was no different. They explained that we’d arrived just after another couple of blackberry pickers had left with a bounteous harvest. He told me to check underneath the bushes because no on checked under there and I was sure to find the biggest, juiciest berries. (He was right.) In the extreme heat of the late afternoon, we plucked a few big juicy, sweet berries, and a few more tart, tiny clusters of jewel-toned berries. My kids quickly lost interest when they realized it wasn’t going to be so easy to find the berries. I was determined to take some home though. They were more fascinated by the apple trees (we picked some of those too!) and free range turkeys (I ordered one for Thanksgiving!) I was determined to come home with enough blackberries to make something…anything. My haul was weighed out at modest 1.5 pounds and I declared that half hour or so was worth it. (more…)