by James K. Sayre
Blackberry picking has been a constant throughout most of my life, from childhood and adolescence into adulthood and beyond...
When we moved into a house in Mount Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in early 1950, I soon discovered a small woods (several vacant lots in a row) down Hazel Drive on the other side of the street. It was steep and very weedy and overgrown. In the summer, lush patches of blackberries grew and fruited and we took our little baskets to harvest the sweet and black berries. We also had a couple of cherry trees in the back yard: an old small tree with sweet red cherries, and a large black cherry tree. The latter required the use of ladders and large metal buckets with handles.
Later, after graduating from college, I moved out to Palo Alto, California for the sunshine and the girls and more "education." There were some nice blackberry patches on the outer edges of the Stanford campus. My Chevrolet gave out after a couple of years in California, so I resorted to riding a bicycle. Bicycling is a great way to spot blackberry bushes.
Finally, in my old age, I inherited a small property in the East Bay in northern California. With a couple years of prime neglect, Himalayan Blackberries were popping up in the side yard and in in the far corner of the backyard. I dug up a few of the young sprouts and transplanted them into the front strip between the sidewalk and the street. These blackberries are free to any passersby, but they get few takers. I guess that many folks have successfully suppressed their hunting-and-gathering genes...
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