Of Blackberries and Memories

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My fingers are purple but my blackberries are in the freezer, all seven gallons of them! My new favorite roadside vegetable stand has had delicious blackberries lately–some as big as globe grapes–and, oh, have they been sweet and good! Think candy. I’ve been eating blackberries like popcorn kernels, one after another.

Last night I bagged blackberries on my “third generation” white enamel-top table that I use for a counter top in my kitchen. The table once stood in my mama’s kitchen and before that it stood in Mama Sue’s kitchen (she was my daddy’s mother). While I worked, I thought about blackberry dishes from days gone by–Mother’s blackberry cobblers and Mama Sue’s blackberry jam.

Mama Sue’s blackberry jam had a dual purpose. She put some on the table for our toast and biscuits; but she saved some for her Christmas jam cake. After Mama Sue baked the layers of her jam cake, she stacked them and slathered them with homemade, cooked caramel frosting. Then she stored it in a bedroom with the heat turned off, where it stayed with her other Christmas goodies waiting to be served with boiled custard on Christmas Day.

Mama Sue kept her jars of blackberry jam in the knotty pine cabinet behind her regular chair at her pink and white dinette set. That table and four of its pink chairs are now in an upstairs bedroom that I use for sewing. I know a bedroom is a strange location for a dinette set, but I have several good reasons for keeping it there:

  • The pink dinette set belonged to Mama Sue. That’s reason enough.
  • I have wonderful childhood memories of sitting around that table, listening and learning from my mother, my aunts, my great-aunts, and Mama Sue.
  • It had to go somewhere, because I wanted to keep it and the spot in the kitchen where a kitchen table ought to go was occupied by the unfinished table Ray and I finished while we were engaged. How could I move that out?

In God’s infinite wisdom, He decided that Tennessee blackberries ripen in July. If I am going to have blackberries in my freezer, I have to set aside time in July to purchase or pick them. After they ripen, the decision about when to put them up is made for you. If I want these blackberries to be in my breakfast bowl this winter, they absolutely had to go into my freezer last night.

These blackberries are in a bowl I found in an antique store. I don’t have any of my maternal granny’s dishes. I bought this bowl because she had one like it.

Sometimes life is like California spinach. You can have it almost anytime you would like. But sometimes life is like Tennessee blackberries. As one of our little friends in Illinois used to say, “A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.” Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and a girl’s gotta do it when a girl’s gotta do it.

Last weekend my friend Maggie and her husband (I’ll call him Tim) made a last minute decision to go on vacation. Their son, his wife, and his granddaughters were going to Florida and the granddaughters wanted Maggie and Tim to come, too. Tim wisely realized that opportunities for vacations with their granddaughters won’t continue forever and so they took off.

May God grant you wisdom to do what you gotta do when you gotta do it.

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1


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