The blackberries at Cornelio Candelaria Organico, where I’ve spent the lion’s share of my summer with young farm interns, are succulent and delicious. There are at least 10 somewhat straight rows packed with brambly, curly branches dripping, literally, with midnight sweetness. Of course, I never forget that all this is a provision made possible by not only the farmer’s hands, but a collusion between our darling bee friends, the soil, sun and water.
I remember picking blackberries on sultry summer days in Ohio. We would set off with Grandma Amstutz and her assorted and asundry buckets and pails. Following the defunct railroad ties along the back forty of our farm, we would be swaddled in our long sleeves, pants and tennis shoes to ward off the pricks and stinging bugs. Those blackberries were always bitter, their survival DNA allowing them to eke out an existence…just barely.
Not these. They are a plenitude of extravagance. An ode to late summer abundance.
As a celebration of August, my birth month—late summer being my most favorite season of the year— here is a poem by Mary Oliver.
When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend
all day among the high
my ripped arms, thinking
of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body
accepts what is. In the dark creeks that run by there
is this thick paw of my life
the black bells, the leaves;
there is this happy tongue.