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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Compared to the relative scarcity of the wild raspberry in these parts this summer, there's a profusion of blackberries. They grow here along the roads, on the sunny side, in somewhat isolated groups of two or three plants that are somewhat hard to see among all the tall weeds. (I've heard tell, from my adventurous daughter, that in some glades in the real woods, they take over in masses, but the pleasure of one's gorging is sometimes blunted by the presence of bear scat.) At this time of year each branch holds all three colors of ripening, white, red and black, but not all the black ones are ready to eat. You have to pick the fattest ones to get any taste of sweetness.

Unlike its three more famous cousins, the strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry, the blackberry is mostly neglected. Its seeds are quite fearsome for its size, sticking in your teeth with great tenacity (and serving well as spitting missiles once you pry them out). It's not terribly sweet, so it doesn't cater well to John Q. Public, which is to say that huge, overgrown, monstrous varieties are not common in supermarkets. Its taste is subtle, not blending well with milk and cream, or lard and flour. Therefore, one must love it in season and treat it kindly and purely. I eat a few on my late-morning walks, a slightly exotic amuse bouche before my slightly pedestrian lunch of sandwich and yogurt and fruit. It's a gentle taste, perfect for the end of summer.

So it was a good walk, with the blackberries, and three deer strolling across in Bay View Terrace in nicely spaced succession (I started to wonder how many deer would actually come out of that phone booth) before bounding into the woods, and two ospreys perched at the top of dead trees, screeching, and a number of bright monarch butterflies to say farewell to August.

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