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By Kaylin Kaupish
We had to wait until late in the summer. After the sun had already given us back our freckles. It was hotter, even though autumn was so close. Like a fever that has to break.
Mom handed each of us a Tupperware bowl. I wished we could use baskets or metal buckets. I suppose cause it was more picturesque. But plastic bowls worked fine and were all we had. We went down to the reservoir and walked the long way around so we could enjoy the last of the afternoon before we started. They grew on the far side of the water, a little further into the trees. We doubted people even knew they grew there.
The ripest berries were always still there, even late in the summer. We only had the birds to compete with.
They grew right next to a subdivision, but the people who lived weren’t the type to go hunting for blackberries on a Sunday afternoon. There was a cemetery nearby. It was small, enclosed in a gate, saved from the landscaping and development. We used to sneak in. Every time we would pick a different grave to leave a wildflower at. Buttercup. Dandelion. Honeysuckle.
We never saved the first berry we picked. It always tasted the best. Sweet and warm, almost like it was alive. Something had come out of nothing and we ate it whole. It felt like we were eating sunshine. Dad taught us to look under the leaves for the best berries. They were hidden from the birds and didn’t dry out in the heat. Our fingers were skinny and perfect for reaching between thorny stems. We still got pricked. Sucked at our wounds. Our bowls were full.
On the ride home we sat with our haul in our laps. We picked at the stray thorns that had stuck. We snapped at each other not to eat all of them before we got home. We ate until our stomachs ached. It would be my job to bake when we got home. Grandma taught me. I made the best blackberry cobbler.