My definition of friendship has always been strict and I won't apologize for that. An aquaintence might say, "Yeah, I found some blackberries over by Shohola Lake." A true friend would draw you a map, and beg you not to miss out on the greatest concentration of the biggest berries he'd ever seen. That true friend is Mark Hardy.
Michael and I donned long pants, real shoes, and long-sleeved shirts and headed out in search of blackberries yesterday morning. In 15 minutes we'd picked 6 cups. Why all the body armor? Well, blackberries don't make it easy for you. Aside from the tick potential in that grassy field, you need protection from the weapons grade thorns of the blackberry bush. Old dead wood grabs at your pants, literally tearing holes into anything less rugged than denim. Young, bearing branches sink their curved thorns into your arms and hands and simply don't let go when you try to disentangle. Blackberry thorns make rose thorns look like nothing.
Still, we'll be going back for more, because those were the biggest, fattest, juiciest berries we'd ever seen, and the bushes will be bearing for weeks to come. What a find! What a stash! What a dilemma!
What will I do with all the bounty? Blackberry jam would be delicious, but I vowed not to make so many jams and jellies this year. Perhaps a blackberry/mulberry jam blend? Blackberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream? Cobbler? Cordial? Or simply mashed and poured over a piece of pound cake (the perfect vessel for berries of any kind). It's not a bad problem to have, and I'm more than willing to take suggestions. Whatever I end up making, I'm saving some for Mark, with many thanks!