In praise of blackberries this BC Day long weekend

When I was a child growing up in northern BC, summers were short and as much work as they were fun. Life required that one start preparing for the next winter, pretty much right after the last winter finished, and a big part of August was harvesting and freezing/canning fruits,veggies and fish. Huckleberries were my favourite harvest berry growing up, but not the small red kind that grows on the coast and my island home now. No, we picked buckets of large deep blue huckleberries that grew in among the pine trees, berries that when crushed left a deep ruby red stain one couldn’t scrub off. Ever creative and with no access to makeup as a young girl, I remember carefully peeling back the skin and rubbing the ruby juice on my lips to create ” natural lipstick “, posing in the mirror quite happy with the result. ( it’s no surprise that this very unique and rich, deep, berry colour is still my favourite hue)

Fast forward many years to my arrival on the west coast…and the discovery of blackberries…

Imagine my delight to discover mounds of these incredible berries literally growing everywhere…in empty lots, in alleys, hanging along fences. I don’t recall the very first time I ate one, but I imagine it wasn’t much different than my reaction is now, every time I pop one of those lush morsels into my mouth…my eyes close involuntarily as the berry bursts on my tongue, sensory overload as the sweet and sometimes tart juice hits every taste bud….

That was the beginning of a love affair with this beautiful berry that many consider a pest for its overwhelming growth and ability to survive where not much else can. They make beautiful pies,( best served with vanilla bean ice cream), the most delicious jam, are perfect in muffins and of course, straight off the bush as the late Mary Oliver describes so beautifully in her poem above. In fact, blackberries are a good source for many critters, like this bee who landed on this juicy blackberry I had just picked and was about to eat! He took his share then flew off,never once concerned of my presence.

It is without surprise then, that this BC Day long weekend you would find me deep in a blackberry thicket alongside a country road, arms scratched as I reach to fill my bucket so I can freeze this ( free!) bounty for the dark wet days of our island winters. And for the record…blackberry juice works equally well as lip stain..😉

Wherever you are in this incredible province we call home, I hope you are enjoying the simpler things in life. Happy BC Day.

20 Comments on “In praise of blackberries this BC Day long weekend

  1. Coming from an area in the interior, huckleberries still my all time favourite. Mom’s homemade huckleberry pies and of course can’t beat that jam. Wishing you all the best Laila.

  2. black berry picking is an amazing exercise in ingenuity, having seen some black berry pickers go for it. Have a great day picking black berries, the pies are very good, with as you write, vanilla ice cream. They’re also good, in shakes, just freeze and take out when needed.

    • This is the truth. I, like many, have concocted a variety of tools to reach and glean those lucious clusters of the biggest berries…that are invariably at the top of the mound of brambles. 🤣

      Invariably my arms are still scratched all to hell for much of August. But its worth it 😉

      There is nothing like a hot blackberry streusal muffin on a cold morning in January when those wicked winds and rain are blowing!

  3. Over 50 years ago and growing up in Burnaby, blackberry bushes were abundant and many summers were filled with tummy aches,stained fingers and clothing from “blackberry wars”. Now that Prince George is home, for some 27 years now, huckleberries have replaced blackberries. The tummy aches and stained clothing have disappeared but the taste of blackberries has remained and are truly missed. The upside, huckleberry bushes don’t have thorns.

    • Haha! PG is my hometown so we know the same huckleberries😉 one eye on the berries and one eye on the surrounding bush watching for hungry bears.We lived in what was a very rural area back then,and both bear and moose were common, although rarely an issue.

      Sigh. This is making me homesick! These coastal red huckleberries are imposters..lol

    • Hahahaha…..😎

      Thats awesome.

      Oh wait…..you BOUGHT blackberries? Do you not live where they grow free everywhere?

      Awww!!

  4. Laila, there comes a time in your life when it truly will be easier to purchase the black berries than gather them. Now there are those who continue the war of the black berries, but some times, its just sooooooo easy. That is not to say one gives it up entirely,

    I still have a line on my fore arm where it was scratched by a rather nasty black berry bush, back in my misspent youth, although berry picking is never misspent time.

    Even in an city setting now with little dirt but a lot of concrete, have 3 very lovely blue berry bushes in very large pots. Next summer will purchase more. Park the vehicles on the street and put the pots on the drive way for blue berries and perhaps black berries. I don’t think they’ grow through the cement, I hope not. Will be growing straw berries also, in pots. You don’t need to mow them, etc.

  5. I keep returning to Laila’s site in search of some Happy news. The other sites are so depressing that one feels like going back to bed. I’ll try the AHN e.a.f. and hope that there’s a glimmer of Happy. Somehow doubt it though.

  6. John Gregson, its e.a.f. I don’t know how to do that. I receive the Alaska Highway News via e-mail. I’ll go back and try to find the e-mail, but I don’t know how to sent it beyond, sending directly to some one’s e-mail, which I could, by sending it to Laila’s e-mail address. Never did learn how to cut and paste or move things around.

    I mentioned the article here and at In-Sight.ca because both Laila and Norm write about Site C. With almost 5 thousand people working the site the NDP isn’t going to close the build off, although if they transferred those workers and the money to other projects, in my opinion, we’d be better off.

    • e.a.f. I never thought I’d see the day when I was giving computer instructions!! highlite the passage(s) you wish to copy, then right click on the highlited area. A box with “copy” should appear. Click on “copy” and go to a new page. Right click and “paste” should appear. Click on “paste”, and viola – the text should appear.
      Did I get it right folks?
      What I’d like to know is how to embed a reference (such as the Alaska Highway News) in an article (such as Laila’s blog) whereby clicking on it takes you to the said article. Someday, maybe.

  7. Thanks Laila. You’ll have to show me how to do that some day!
    It was as I expected – not Happy, but I’m glad to see you’re back (I don’t ever want to see ‘your back’ as you leave us!) but the circumstances are not Happy. I wish your young ‘un a speedy recovery!

    You’ve had droughts? We had a very wet seasonr, and NO SMOKE! Looking forward to better weather in the coming Indigenous Summer!

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