With a bag over my shoulder and a sketchbook in hand, I walk down the fire road near my house to a hidden blackberry bush bursting with ripe fruit. After a long week of working indoors, it feels good to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Even with this summer’s strangely cool weather (10 degrees below normal), blackberries are in abundance and tastier than ever. As I face the bush, a shapeless mass of green, a sweet aroma lures me closer.
Today I plan to paint the blackberries before filling up my container with fruit. I walk around the bush looking for a good place to draw, and find a good spot under a shade tree. I reach for my paints and study the berries in their various stages of ripeness, colors ranging from inky black to brilliant red, glowing in the afternoon sun. A couple of bees check out what’s up, but soon buzz off to more important matters.
While letting the watercolor dry, I pull a bowl from my bag and pick the ripe fruit, berry by berry. Pigment from the juice stains my fingers as I loosen each piece of fruit. Carefully, I try to avoid the bush’s sharp thorns but inevitably one will poke me, reminding me of the pain that often accompanies life’s pleasures and keeps the easily intimidated away. I eat some berries right off the bush, enjoying each one’s distinctive taste. Some are soft and sweet, and others are firm and tart. But what I love most is the inviting fragrance that smells like a sweet perfume.
Returning home with battle scars of pokes and scrapes, along with a bowl full of blackberries, I imagine how good they’ll taste topping off homemade ice cream and tomorrow morning’s breakfast cereal.