Gardenias and Blackberries

I find myself looking for constants during this unfamiliar time, constants like a favorite recipe or time of day, a comforting memory to revisit.  South Louisiana springtime remains constant, as do the gardenias blooming and blackberries ripening in my backyard. 

The blackberries take me back to picking the sweet and tart berries as a child, in a labyrinth of thorns, guarded by the ickiest bugs and the heat of the sun.  The patch that produced the most fruit for us sat a few yards away from my grandparents’ house, and I would spend hours eating and picking, picking and eating, until I decided it was dumpling time, which undoubtedly began as soon as I returned home, lips and fingers stained, belly almost full. The rest of the family anticipated the dumplings, longed for them, but I looked forward to the largest bowl I could find, brimming with blackberries, sprinkled liberally with sugar.  I had dreamed about that bowl of sugared berries since I devoured last year’s final bowl, waiting as patiently as a third grader could for those tiny white flowers to morph into black jewels.  Last year my husband planted two blackberry vines, the thornless variety, thankfully, in our backyard.  We now reap their bounty.

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