Posted by: ktzefr | November 29, 2016

Tea from the Heart

img_3731A few minutes after five and it’s already dark.  I miss the long daylight hours of summer.  The day is always too short to do everything I want to do.  Still, I make time for tea.  But I’m not the sort to run around in circles with a mug in hand doing chores while I drink.  Tea is meant to be enjoyed for its own sake — with a good book and/or music.

Today: Sergio Basurto on the harp and Te de la Casa in the cup.  A couple of weeks ago I heard Sergio play (harp and flamenco guitar in San Miguel de Allende) Nunca en Domingo, La Borrachita, Las Golondrinas...  and I brought back CDs and tea leaves from my favorite places.

Te de la Casa, Posada Corazon, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

 

The Te de la Casa is an herbal blend that grows in the gardens of the lovely Posada Corazón (inn of the heart).

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The herbs:  Estafiate, salvia, cedron, toronjil….scents of sage and mint and lemon.  Estafiate goes by several names — white sagebrush, Mexican wormwood, prairie sage — and is used as a medicinal herb to treat pain, malaria, diabetes and other ills.  The name salvia, first described by Pliny the Elder, comes from the Latin “to feel well and healthy” and cedron and toronjil are both “lemon” herbs — lemon verbena/lemon balm — used to flavor or add fragrance to food and essential oils.  The lemon herbs have also been used in the treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system.  Whether they cure any ills or not, they make a nice combination, both for the scent and taste.

The herbs at Posada Corazon grow in small patches amongst the flowers and fruit trees. 

 

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Ahhh, the places one can go with a cup of tea and the song of a harp…

“Cultivate interior life as though it were a garden sanctuary.  Give away what you can.  Squander your love.” ~ Frances Mayes, Every Day in Tuscany

 

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“What matters in life are those things contained in moments as fleeting as lightning.”  ~Elena Santiago

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“The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” 

~Fabienne Fredrickson

**********

 

Tea, flowers, music…what small, everyday thing are YOU passionate about?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: ktzefr | November 21, 2016

Ordinary Magic: 10 Short, Short Stories

Coffee tree blooming; Photo:KFawcett

Coffee tree blooming; Photo:KFawcett

— My coffee tree is blooming!  It sits in a bedroom window with the bright morning sun that imitates (sorta) the sun of the tropics, where coffee trees (and some of us humans) feel more at home.  Supposedly, it will flower and produce beans that I can “harvest” and brew coffee.  Maybe one very small espresso cup.  Maybe, if I’m lucky.  Sometimes you have to work diligently for a long time to reap a tiny reward. 

— All summer, most days, the wind chimes remained silent.  A tinkle now and then.  But the stiff gusts of the last two days have sent them flying wildly in the wind — as if they finally have something to say!

— Saturday, breakfast, it seemed every finch in the yard wanted to take a bath at the same time.  My “invention” — a wire plant hanger with a plastic tray for water — rocked back and forth in the branches of the snowball bush/tree as the birds took turns, sending water splashing over the edge.  They must have known cold weather was on the way.  Today: ice in the birdbath.

— The sweet gum leaves have finally turned yellow and red and purple.  Falling like big stars on the driveway.  What beauty!  In a month’s time the tree will be bare.  I’m trying to embrace the idea that bare can be beautiful.  Not having much luck.

— The scent of bacon frying.  Brownies in the oven.  Minestrone soup simmering on the stove.  That’s a lot of magic!

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—  A room full of books.  A stack of ” to read” tomes on a table.  Books in mind, books on lists.  Books full of answers that I don’t know to questions I’ve never asked.  For example: Every second the Earth is visited by 10,000 trillion trillion tiny neutrinos (mostly shot out by the nuclear broiling of the sun) and virtually all of them pass right through the planet and everything on it, including you and me, as if it/we weren’t there.

— Words.  “Happiness is absorption, being entirely yourself and entirely in one place.” ~Pico Iyer

— Memories are like…photos.  Tangible things.  You can see and hear and feel and almost, almost touch.  Pieces of songs remembered.  A word here, a phrase there.  A whisper.  The sound of silence.  The moon through the trees.  A candle flame in a window.  And this…the mouse we saved in 1972 when we lived in an old house with a crooked fireplace and an ancient out-of-tune piano.  The mouse transported in a cardboard box to freedom.  Like magic.

— The Mexican purse.  I bought it more than 3 decades ago.  It’s red suede with fringes that reach all the way to my ankles.  A hippie purse.  A purse I just had to have but never carried.  I couldn’t answer “why” to either.  Maybe I’ll hang it on the wall and fill it full of flowers.

— There is no magic like the imagination.  If I were a fruit…I’d be a mango — a little sweet, a little tart, smooth to the touch, and with a very big heart. 

*****

How about you?

What constitutes the ordinary magic of your day?

 

 

Posted by: ktzefr | November 18, 2016

Favorite Foto Friday – Reflections

“We plant seeds in the ground

And dreams in the sky,

Hoping that, someday, the roots of one

Will meet the upstretched limbs of the other…

Traveler, look up.  Stay awhile.

Know that you always have a home here.”

~from “We are of a Tribe” by Alberto Rios

I enjoy early morning walks, both when I’m home and when I travel.  One of my favorite walking towns is San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato, Mexico.  One sunny morning I looked up…

Window and Sky, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Window and Sky, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

…and saw this reflection.

Window and Sky II, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Window and Sky II, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

**********

Posted by: ktzefr | November 10, 2016

10 Reasons to Love Cacti and Mexico and Blue Skies…

On returning from Mexico last weekend I realized that I’d missed the autumn color — or, at least, the height of the color.  I left home with the trees still green and came back to a yard full of fallen leaves. 

El Charco del Ingenio, the botanical garden in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, was lovely, however.  Well…you do have to like cacti.  San Miguel is in the Bajio region, the central highlands of the country, more than a mile high, with desert cacti, palm trees, and flowering bougainvillea.  Since this was my first time there in the autumn months, it was interesting to see the plants in fall.  I do love all of the spring color, but there’s something quite lovely about the starkness of the few blooming plants, the wide blue skies, and the views of the canyons, lakes, and distant mountains from the dusty hiking trails.

Here are some favorite fotos,  along with a few words from writers about Mexico:

— “Each episode has its own sacred, its precious and peculiar interest.” ~ Katherine Anne Porter

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Photo:KFawcett

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Photo:KFawcett

— “And then there is that day when…you wait for the wind to work you slowly free from your hold upon the sky…” ~Ray Bradbury

 

El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

— “…toward nightfall the dusty road will be thronged with shadowy people…and new-laden mules…glad to get away from the town, to see the cactus and the pleated hills…”  ~D.H. Lawrence

 

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

— “I feel at the moment something like peace.”  ~ Malcolm Lowry

 

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

— “I had learned to dance on rooftops…to disappear into the music.”  ~ Donna Gershten

 

El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

— “The water is a view to a distant place…an array of birds in flight…” ~ Luis Rodriguez

El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

— “Nahuatl like rain, like water flowing, like drips in a cavern/or glistening thaw/like breath through a flute/ with many stops and plops and sighs…”  ~Richard Rodriguez

 

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:Fawcett

Cacti, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:Fawcett

— “The rains of summer are months away and the dust of ancient, infertile earth rises in clouds…” ~ Ruben Martinez

 

Hiking, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Hiking, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

— “I tell a story.  I make a sound and leave a mark — as palatable as a prickly pear, more solid than stone.”  ~ Ana Castillo

 

Canyon, El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Canyon, El Charco del Ingenio, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

— “I remember only silence…”  ~ Salman Rushdie

 

Hiking, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Hiking, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

 

** Passages above from Mexico in Mind: An Anthology, edited by Maria Finn (two centuries of writers drawn to Mexico, from DH Lawrence, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, and Tennessee Williams to Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, and Sandra Cisneros)

Posted by: ktzefr | October 6, 2016

Accepting Autumn, Birds and Blooms

Ruby-throated hummingbird; Photo:KFawcett

Ruby-throated hummingbird; Photo:KFawcett

I’m a summer person, and I can feel autumn coming.  I dread giving up my backyard office in the trees with the birdsong and squirrel chatter and hummer spotting.

One great thing about being human is the ability to live in two worlds at once – the physical place and places of the heart.  Sometimes I’m more here than there; Sometimes I’m more there than here.  I’ve traveled great distances while sitting on the back porch, listening to the cicades hum and the birds sing and the wind chimes play a different tune every time a breeze blows.

I think about how we, each one of us, plays a slightly different tune every day.  Sometimes it seems like one day is the same as all the others, but there is always some small difference in every breath.  And we can’t re-do a single moment.

Mexican heather; Photo:KFawcett

Mexican heather; Photo:KFawcett

But what if we could?  What if we had the option to go back and change moments?  If life could be a bit more like reading a book…  I like to re-read, listen to the words again, search out a new meaning, a new way of looking at the story.  If we could go back and make changes, I suspect we’d spend most of our time not in the here and now but constantly returning and re-doing one thing or another, second guessing ourselves.

*****

My mom used to say that some people can’t “leave well enough alone.”  But I’m thinking that, most of the time, unless we are very wise and willing to listen to our better selves, we don’t even recognize when we are experiencing “well enough” – if we did, it would be easy to “leave it alone.”

So, today is a gorgeous day.  Cloudy and cool-ish.  The backyard is quiet.  The drone of jarflies has ceased.  I’ve seen the big, green flies lying dead on the sidewalks.  The bumble bees have all but disappeared, and the goldfinch boys are looking a little less handsome as they get their winter-brown feathers.

I’m a summer person, and I can feel autumn coming.  I’ve seen the shifting shadows of the sun through the maple.  Still…it could be rainy and windy and cold.  It’s not.  The leaves have not yet turned, so there’s still an abundance of green.  And blooms — the Mexican heather and mums and geraniums and marigolds are looking great.  It’s a gorgeous day, this day.  So I’ll stop wishing I could resurrect the jarflies or keep the finch boys yellow for just a little longer or turn the clock back to a sunny, blue-sky, July day.

I’ll leave well enough alone.

Sage; Photo:KFawcett

Sage; Photo:KFawcett

*****

 

 

 

Posted by: ktzefr | September 29, 2016

Rain, San Miguel de Allende

Rain, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

Rain, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

After the rain, going home with garlic…lots of garlic!

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Photo:KFawcett

 

Posted by: ktzefr | September 7, 2016

Words in a Coffee Shop

 

Reflections; Photo:KFawcett

Reflections; Photo:KFawcett

After Spanish class…

The Spanish language ladies have come to the coffee shop to continue their conversation after class.  Graying hair, Baggallinis, and Birkenstocks.  These sandals are made for walking – good for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Santiago Trail across Spain, the white powder beach below the Maya ruins in Tulum, or scaling Teotihuacan in Mexico.  Waiting to go somewhere, they are here in a coffeehouse in the burbs with their textbooks and perfect pedicures — toenails painted pink.  The Spanish language ladies with graying hair and Baggallinis and Birkenstocks never paint their toenails purple or green or black.  They converse, confusing cepillo, cebolla, caballo.   Words in English easily distinguished from each other — brush, onion, horse.  I can’t help smiling when they “horse” their hair or ride their “onions” or eat “brushes” on burgers.  The aging ladies are entertaining. But they’re trying.  That’s important.  I know what it’s like to say the wrong word and to provide this sort of entertainment for native speakers.  I picture them hailing a taxi in Miraflores or Madrid or Mexico City…ah, to be a fly on the window.

The Words We Stress…

Three millennials sipping lattes –

  1. “Last night was awesome!”
  2. “It was awesome.”
  3. “Talk about awesome. Did you see that guy with Anna?”
  4. Yes! Totally awesome dude.”
  5. Totally!”

I’m looking down at a fresh latte, hesitating to take a drink and mess up the perfect foam leaf floating on top.  The artistic young man is barista today.  I like to come here on his days.  Coffee is not cheap and all baristas are not created equal.  He makes hearts and frilly fern leaves and smiley faces to perfection.  I don’t know if I can stand all this awesomeness!

Figs; Photo:KFawcett

Figs; Photo:KFawcett

Once Upon a Time…

The Middle Eastern man is always sitting alone with his laptop.  Outside if it’s not too cold or too hot or raining.  Maybe he’s a writer or a wanna-be writer.  He is diligent.  Or maybe he’s playing the stock market.  Sometimes he looks intensely at the screen, does a lot of backspacing and deleting.  Or maybe he’s emailing relatives back home.  Sometimes he smiles to himself as if he’s had a moment of happy memory.  At a half cup of espresso and half a lumpy scone (white and dark chocolate deliciousness), another man (blonde, blue shirt, jeans) joins him, asks if he’s making progress, wants to see his work.  No, he says, he’s not comfortable showing his work to others before it’s “in good form.”  So…just read me some, says Blondie.   

He’ll read the first sentence he says, smiling, looking down at the screen.  “Kan, ya ma kan.” 

Blondie shrugs.  “That’s it?  What does it mean?”

“Once there was, and there was not.”

“That’s sorta odd,” says Blondie.  “I mean…”

“It’s like you saying Once Upon a Time.  But in Arabic it is more accurate to the story, since the story is fiction; it is not true.  Once there was, and there was not.”

(I Google.  Kan ya ma kan.  The first sentence in many Arabic stories about the past…a popular song by a number of artists, the title of an album, a restaurant in Casablanca, a Facebook page that looks like a gallery, and possibly a breed of dog.  And then there is this: Kan Ya Ma Kan was a three-weekend-long program in Los Angeles that featured the culinary traditions, music, and culture of the Arab-Jewish diaspora in Iraq, Syria, and North Africa.  Politics may never bring people together, but music and food?  Maybe.)

Once there was, and there was not…

 

Posted by: ktzefr | August 31, 2016

10 Nature Pics and Poems to Ponder

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

~Albert Einstein

Honeybee; Photo:KFawcett

Honeybee; Photo:KFawcett

“I was walking by.  He was sitting there…

I began to talk.  I talked about summer, and about time.  The

pleasures of eating, the terrors of the night.  About this cup

we call a life.  About happiness. And how good it feels, the

heat of the sun between the shoulder blades…

I talked about how the world seems to me, five feet tall, the

blue sky all around my head.  I said, I wondered how it seemed

to him, down there, intimate with the dust.”

~ “Toad” by Mary Oliver

 

Frog; Photo:KFawcett

Frog; Photo:KFawcett

 

“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult

than the wakening from a little sleep.”

~ “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches,” by Mary Oliver

 

Swallowtail butterfly; Photo:KFawcett

Swallowtail butterfly; Photo:KFawcett

“…what can she do?

Nothing but watch and watch

for she is too small

only a sand in the big desert

no power

nothing at all.”

~ “My Life Story,” by Lan Nguyen

 

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“There’s a deep murmur unravelled,

the air is a song of feather,

a soft babble of grass.”

~ “Cuernavaca,” by Aline Pettersson

 

Bethany Beach, DE; Photo:KFawcett

Bethany Beach, DE; Photo:KFawcett

 

“Happiness is absorption, being entirely yourself and entirely in one place.”

~ Pico Iyer

 

Turtle Bay, St. John, USVI; Photo:KFawcett

Turtle Bay, St. John, USVI; Photo:KFawcett

 

“The red threads

of last-light

dance

on the shoulders of our oarsman.”

~ “Mindoro” by Ramon C. Sunico

 

Salt Pond Sunset, DE; Photo:KFawcett

Salt Pond Sunset, DE; Photo:KFawcett

 

“My words are like flowers…

exuding fragrance,

when pressed by the scorching summer…”

~ “The Gatherer,” by Ali al-Mak

 

Waterlily, Cayman Islands; Photo:DFawcett

Waterlily, Cayman Islands; Photo:DFawcett

 

“They come like the ghosts of horses, shyly…

And they all, awkwardly and hesitantly…

begin to run, and the field

is full of happy thunder.  They toss their heads,

their manes fly, they are galloping in freedom.”

~ “The Pit Ponies” by Leslie Norris

 

Pickard Farm, KY; Photo:DFawcett

Pickard Farm, KY; Photo:DFawcett

 

“It is possible we will not meet again

on earth.  To think this fills my throat

with dust.  Then there is only the sky

tying the universe together…

Where we live in the world

is never one place.  Our hearts,

those dogged mirrors, keep flashing us

moons before we are ready for them.”

~ “19 Varieties of Gazelle,” by Naomi Shihab Nye

 

Full Moon; Photo:KFawcett

Full Moon; Photo:KFawcett

 

**********

TC&GLM coverTo Purchase:

BARNES AND NOBLE

AMAZON

INDIE BOUND

 

 

Posted by: ktzefr | August 12, 2016

Ready for Rain!

Casita, Mawamba, Tortuguero, Costa Rica; Photo:MFawcett

Casita, Mawamba, Tortuguero, Costa Rica; Photo:MFawcett

On this hot, hot day I rummage through old pictures, think about rain, the hardest rain I can remember…

I thought the sky was falling our first night in Tortuguero.  Awakened by the rain pounding on the tin roof, I slipped up and sat by the window to watch.  We were staying in a casita with one room and a bathroom barely big enough to turn around in.  The big windows had no glass, but they were covered with screens and heavy wooden shutters.  I opened the shutters slowly so as not to wake the others and stared out into the night, hypnotized by the blurry outline of jungle and the flood of water falling through the trees.  There was no wind, so the rain came straight down as if a giant spigot had been turned on in the sky.  The ceiling fan that had whirred us to sleep now moved in silence, its sound easily drowned out by the storm.

tortugueraOur casita was perched on a sand spit at the eastern edge of Costa Rica.  A three-minute walk in either direction led to water – the Tortuguero River on one side, the Caribbean Sea on the other.  I had read about the extraordinary drama of lightning and thunder and torrential downpour of a rain forest storm, but nothing could have prepared me for this awesome spectacle of nature. 

Suddenly, sitting by that window looking out at the rain, I was overcome by a strange feeling of déjà vu.  I had never been here before, but there was something familiar in the air.  I’d felt it in other tropical places, too, but could never figure out why.  This time I knew.  The open window let in the rich scent of the jungle, and it smelled surprisingly like my childhood home — the Kentucky woods after a hard summer rain.

I realized that I had seen and smelled and felt this place long before coming here, but I had no idea how sharply it would connect me to home, to my own growing-up years in the Kentucky woods, lying awake at night after a summer storm with the window up and a cool breeze slipping through, bringing that same scent with it.

Howler monkey; Los Canales en Tortuguero; Photo:DFawcett

Howler monkey; Los Canales en Tortuguero; Photo:DFawcett

Los Canales, Tortuguero; Photo:MFawcett

Los Canales, Tortuguero; Photo:MFawcett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many times over the years I have found myself in foreign places that were made familiar by the raw, natural scent of earth and rain.  These times hold some of my best memories.  There is a saying that has been attributed to various people over the years, including Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Roger Miller and others.  It goes like this: “some people feel the rain; others just get wet.” 

You know who you are…

*********

Though I enjoy having photographs to slip back briefly to places I long to visit again, poetry works, too.  I first read Ernesto Cardenal’s work back in the 80s, and I’ve never found another poet who expresses more intense, realistic images of the jungles of Central America with all those wet earth and good scents.  “Green” scents, he calls them.

“Verdes tardes de la selva; tardes/tristes.  Río verde/entre zacatales verdes;/pantanos verdes./Tardes olorosas a lodo, a Honjas mojadas, a/helechos húmedos y a hongos…”

(“Green afternoons in the jungle; sad/afternoons.  A green river/going through green pastures;/green marshes./Afternoons that smell of mud, rain-soaked leaves, of/wet ferns and mushrooms.”)

Cardenal repeats the “green” images – the “moss covered sloth,” the shad leaping from the green river, the “din of monkeys” throwing green soursop peels at each other, the spiny iguanas like “dragones de jade,” the green palm trees and islands and volcano, the plantain groves and papayas, and the “dazzling verdure” of vegetation growing on the tiled roofs “like a fire burning green.”

With the temps in the 90s and the heat index soaring above 100, I’m green with envy of folks in cooler, wetter places.  I’m ready to feel some rain!

**********

Links:

Tortuguero National Park

Mawamba Lodge, Tortuguero

Posted by: ktzefr | August 5, 2016

Wild About Blackberries: 10 Reasons to Love ‘em

Blackberries; Photo:KFawcett

Blackberries; Photo:KFawcett

On the hottest days of summer in the Kentucky hills we got up early, dressed in pants and long sleeves, donned a hat, and snapped rubber bands around our ankles to keep pesky critters from crawling up our legs.  Then we grabbed a bucket, called the dogs, and headed to the blackberry patch.

Blackberries grew wild so there were scattered patches all over the mountain.  We wandered the hills from one picking season to the next because we never knew where we might find a new crop or whether the old berry patch would still exist.  “Patch” is actually a nice, though not entirely accurate, description of these clusters of sweet, purple berries that grow on thorny briars all tangled up together. 

There was a standard warning for berry pickers in those days: if the thorns don’t get you, the chiggers will.   The bugs are so tiny they are hard to see with the naked eye unless there’s a meeting of like-minded chiggers, in which case the color of the crowd stands out, creating a moving red blotch on the skin.  Invariably, a few always managed to migrate beneath the rubber band and head for more hospitable places.  I recall painting my legs with nail polish to seal the bites and “smother” the critters.  I can’t imagine that was a good thing, but it seemed to work.

We took the dogs to keep away the snakes.  Black snakes, green snakes, and garter snakes were okay; copperheads and cottonmouths and rattlesnakes were not.  But to me, a snake was a snake.  I couldn’t tell one from the other and didn’t like any of them.  And I didn’t trust the dogs to warn us.  Half the time they found a place to curl up in the shade of a tall hickory or poplar while we sweated in the sun.  It seemed I was always waking up the dogs.

My mom told us to wait and wash the berries before we ate them.  “You may eat a spider.”  She repeated this often.  But I examined the berries closely and ate as I picked.  We all did, Mom included. After awhile, the big plump berries were too tempting to resist.

ImageYears later, when my mom was in her eighties, she came to visit one summer and we went berry picking outside the city.  The berries had been planted at one of the local farms and were set out in neat rows with freshly mowed “aisles” in between.  The new variety of berries were totally thorn-less!  No finger pricks, and we didn’t have to worry about chiggers or snakes and could fill our buckets in record time.  The berries tasted the same.  It was a fun outing.  But there was something different that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time.

It was the mystery, I think.  These citified berry patches were predictable.  We knew exactly where they were and how many berries we could find and when they would be perfect for the picking.  No guessing.  No surprises.  No worries.  The “wild” had been taken out of the berries and the picking. Sometimes a little bit of “wild” is needed in our day-to-day predictable lives.

*********

Hot Blackberry Jam

Mom made blackberry cobbler, dumplings, and hot jam with biscuits.  She canned berries in quart-sized jars for the winter and froze a few in plastic bags.  One of my favorites was hot jam with biscuits for breakfast.  I often make this for dessert.  It’s easy and fast.  All you need are fresh blackberries and sugar — lots of sugar.  Heat in a sauce pan on low until the berries produce juice that thickens and becomes a heavy syrup.  Add a few fresh berries to the jam, stir, and pour over buttered biscuits (homemade biscuits or Bisquick – no canned, refrigerated biscuits, please!)

**********

10 Reasons to Love Blackberries:

1) The antioxidant content of blackberries is far above that of most other foods.

2) The blackberry is technically not just one fruit. Each whole berry consists of 80-100 small drupelets that are arranged in a circular fashion, like a bunch of tiny grapes.  Each drupelet has a juicy pulp and a single seed.

3) Blackberries are easy to store – wash and vacuum seal in a Ziploc bag and store in the freezer.  They keep for months!

4) They grow easily, even in poor soil, and spread rapidly in woods, hillsides, ditches, and vacant lots — mostly by birds and small mammals that eat the berries, digest, and disperse the seeds at will. 

5) Blackberry leaves are food for certain caterpillars, deer, red foxes, badgers, and birds.

6) Blackberries are red before they are ripe, leading to an old expression that “blackberries are red when they’re green.”

7) According to forensic evidence, the Iron Age Haraldskaer Woman ate blackberries 2,500 years ago, so it is reasonable to assume that the berries have been eaten by humans for thousands of years.

8)  Mexico is the leading producer of blackberries in the world.  Nearly the entire crop is exported into the off-season markets in the US, Canada, and Europe.

9) Blackberries have multiple meanings across religious, ethnic, and mythological realms.  They’ve been used in Christian art to symbolize spiritual neglect or ignorance.  Mid-Mediterranean folklore claims that Christ’s Crown of Thorns was made of blackberry runners.  In one Greek myth, Bellerophon, a mortal, tries to ride Pegasus to Olympus, but he falls and becomes blind and injured upon landing in a thorny berry bush. This is his punishment for trying to take the power of the gods.

10) They taste good!

**********

Did you ever pick wild berries?  Have a favorite recipe?

 

 

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