Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Love in the Time of Blackberries

On Sunday, M and I celebrated our one-year anniversary! He made me a darling wedding video; I baked us a heart-shaped cake and surprised him with concert tickets. Together we stood on our front steps, me with my dried-up bouquet, and remembered the glorious front-yard celebration last year. We crushed the year-old flowers and sprinkled them down the wedding path to our garden.

But the real highlight was blackberry picking--serious picking, for hours, until our fingers were sore and stained a deep purple. M clipped the vicious thorny branches away so I could duck into little coves filled with fat, juicy, beyond-reach clusters. We braved poison oak and bees as the sky turned from cloudy drizzle to hot breezy sunshine. We took one picnic break halfway through, then soldiered on, foragers by the lake-side, sharp primate eyes, determined to fill our deep second bowl. I cooled off with a dip in the velvety lake. We came home with almost 10 cups of berries!

This morning we made jam. First we rinsed and mashed up the berries.

We washed all the jars in hot water and boiled the lids. (Small poison oak rashes are blooming all over my face, neck, and arms. M, ever-empathetic, is more upset about it than me).

Then we simmered the berries and strained out half of the seeds. We added lemon juice, sugar, and pectin, and stirred it all up to a boil. A bee flew in the window and I cursed its attempt to lick my spoon. M reminded me that we wouldn't have any of these berries if it weren't for "those cute little bees."

Next we filled the jars, plopped 'em back in a boil bath, and voila: a delightful bounty of blackberry jam to last us through the winter. An incredibly satisfying and fun way to spend the morning with my dear husband, who makes every day rife with possibility and sweetness.

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