A week ago today, my daughters and I went Easter egg hunting.
Each of us tucked baskets under our arms, and we were off.
Technically, we weren’t hunting for eggs.
Nope, when our friends mowed a giant field near the back of their farm, they found the entire undergrowth jam-packed with wild blackberries.
They knew just who to call.
Picking wild blackberries is a job for children. Both my friend and I remember long afternoons that lazed into evening when we were banished from the house armed with nothing but buckets and a quest for blackberries.
Hours and hours we would spend wandering through open fields and woods we knew well, picking enough blackberries to seem productive, but largely just talking. Or singing. Or inventing imaginary civilizations.
My friend was in Louisiana. I was in Mississippi — and we didn’t know the other existed, but we both have the memories in common. Friendships are built on the backs of such shared experiences.
All in all, picking blackberries brought back memories, but it also brought a lot of joy.
Part of the joy came in the perfection of the afternoon. It was one of those exceptional days, with a slight breeze and a blue sky that began to burst with streaks of orange and red as the sun set. The outing was, to be sure, was perfect enough for a song of its own.
The blackberries were everywhere. They were truly wild. It was a whole field full of the tiny untamed treasures.
If we had been on a real Easter egg hunt, it would have been the one designated for toddlers. You know the roped-off section of the yard where well-meaning adults just dot the grass with eggs. No hiding required.
Aside from a couple of paths, we couldn’t put a single foot down without stepping on a blackberry or two. At one point, I decided I was going to methodically pick every blackberry within my reach — which may have been inspired by the need to stop bending over and sit for a spell. I sat in that one spot, steadily picking for at least 10 minutes — that’s a lot of blackberries.
After about an hour of picking, the lot of us had picked a couple of gallons of berries. We stopped because we had our fill not because there were no more. Leaving a field still full of such deliciousness went against human nature.
But we did. We knew a cobbler was waiting in the not-so-distant future.
After the cobbler, our friend sent us on our way with the remainder of the afternoon’s bounty.
Come Monday afternoon, Piper (our 10-year-old daughter) and I decided to tackle the berries and make some jam. The evening before I had watched 60 Minutes report on the toxicity of sugar and faced a literal moral dilemma: how could I make jam without quite so much sugar (and no pectin)?
I decided to give it a go. How could we go astray? I remembered a blueberry jam recipe I had used several years ago that recommending not only using the juice of lemons, but slicing the lemon peel into the mix, as well. I decided to go for the utmost lemon flavor to complement the fresh blackberries — and I cut the sugar considerably.
All of that may seem like a lot of detail about my decisions regarding making blackberry jam.
But that’s only because you haven’t tasted said jam.
Piper and I believe it may be the best stuff either of us has ever tasted. I am so happy to have someone to share my joy in just how good this stuff tastes. And we are both very aware that it tasting so good has little to do with our convoluted decision making in modifying the recipe.
It’s all those tiny blackberries we picked from the middle of a field off LaNeuville Road.
Nature did the real work — in true evidence of the rebirth spring offers. And isn’t that what Easter is all about?
Jan Risher’s column appears Sundays. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.