Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It may sound silly, but I hold a special place in my heart for the blackberries at my in-laws' house in Vermont.  It was two summers ago, before they had moved back here from Utah, when Matt and I stopped by on our way back to Boston to check on the vineyard and give Lilah a little time to run around before our long trek home.  She was just a little thing then - just barely walking, and Grady was probably hardly bigger than one of those blackberries.  We were a family of three, almost four, and we hadn't given much thought to moving back "home" to Vermont, except maybe when we were talking about way down the road in our retirement.  We had been settled in our little house for two years at that point, and thought that when we upgraded it would just be to a bigger home in Massachusetts.

That all changed after that visit.

Matt's grandfather, Pepere, was mowing around the grapes in the vineyard (and oh, Pepere and the grapes is a story for another time!), and he stopped to show us all the huge blackberries growing on the bushes in the backyard.  We're talking big, juicy berries, glossy as snake eyes and warm from the sun.  He picked a handful for Lilah, who immediately stuffed them all in her tiny mouth and was looking for more.  By the time we loaded ourselves back in the car, her cheeks, chin, and hands were stained with purple blackberry juice and she had a belly full of berries.  Matt started driving down the road, and both of us were quiet for a minute or two.  And then, we looked at each other with what was probably the exact same expression on both of our faces; we were thinking the same thought but afraid to say it for fear that the other was not going to be on the same page.  And I don't remember who said it first or the exact words, but we both knew that we wanted to move back to Vermont, to raise our kids where we had been raised.  We wanted to see them eat blackberries off the bush in the summer, pick apples from the trees in the fall, cut down our own Christmas tree in the winter, and plant a new garden in the spring.

And last summer, Matt's parents moved back home and we spent a lot of time here in Vermont with them.  It was so nice to be able to let Lilah run around barefoot in the grass, and Grady learned to crawl in their backyard.  Again, we picked blackberries, this time turning them into pies, muffins, pancakes and shortcake.  There were blackberries coming out our ears, and Lilah loved going out to pick them with her little basket.  She ate more than she brought inside, but that's the nature of berry-picking when you're little.  They taste best straight from the bush and warm from the sun.

Now here I am again, this summer, picking blackberries.  It's an easier task this year, as Matt's sister took the time to clear out some rows while she was here visiting, and the berry patch looks great.  We've got blackberries coming out our ears again, and I have big baking plans this week, including some new recipes I'll share later.  I picked a bunch today, while all three kiddos napped, and it was so peaceful and relaxing to walk around the bushes and hear the plunk of the berries in my bucket.  It seemed like more berries were getting ripe as I made my way through the rows, and I'm sure they'll be another haul to pick tomorrow.  I'm just praying that by this time next year, we'll be calling Vermont home and berry-picking will be just another part of our daily life instead of a treat on vacation.

Photo by Lilah

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