Friday, September 30, 2011

Sweet Memories

Previously published in the Charleston Gazette & USA Deep South~

A neighbor recently gave my husband and me a big bag of fresh blackberries. The largest blackberries either of us had ever seen, they surely must have been picked from a bush that had been infused with some sort of growth hormone. These berries were the cream of the crop!

My first thought was to freeze them for later use - maybe show them off to the rest of the family at Thanksgiving - but then, I was reminded that I'm constantly advising everyone to live in the moment, and a question came to mind, "Why don't you practice what you preach?" Besides, my taste buds were already starting to tingle at the mere thought of a delectable dessert made from the succulent berries. So, in the spirit of "living for today," I decided to go ahead and make an old-fashioned cobbler. There would be no freezing, no waiting for another day or a special holiday; instead, there would be pure enjoyment right now! After all, who knows what tomorrow may bring?

As the cobbler began to bake and the aroma of the sweet berry mixture started to fill the house, my mind wandered back to delightful memories of my childhood days and the blackberry cobblers my grandmother used to make.

After I started school, my mother went to work. That meant I had to spend summers with my grandparents. They lived in a small coal-mining town in southern West Virginia where my grandfather worked in the mine. My aunt (only three months older) and I had a lot of fun finding ways to entertain ourselves. Some days, we explored the beautiful West Virginia hills that surrounded the tiny community, splashed around in the rippling waters of Paint Creek or visited the Company Store for a peppermint stick. Other days we spent hours picking blackberries in anticipation of some of my grandmother's scrumptious cobbler at the end of the day.

After supper, a bunch of us kids would gather in an open area just down the road to play "Hide and Seek" or "Kick the Can." Screams and giggles echoed throughout the neighborhood until long after dark. When we tired of games, we roasted marshmallows or potatoes over an open fire on the creek bank and sat around the fire telling scary stories. One by one, we were summoned by our mothers and another unforgettable summer evening was over. After splashing creek water on the fire, we'd head home, resembling coal miners ourselves, with faces blackened by smoke that had swirled upward from the blazing fire as it charred potatoes.

But the best evenings for Aunt Betty and me were the ones when, after our baths, my grandmother dished up the mouthwatering cobbler she'd made from our blackberry harvest that day. She covered the warm mixture with milk and, after we devoured it, we were tucked into bed with warm, satisfied tummies, and sleep came quickly.

The "ding" of the oven timer signaled my cobbler was done and jolted me back to reality. Funny how such small occurrences can sometimes fill our hearts with total joy for a brief time. A simple bag of blackberries, given by a generous neighbor, led me on a lovely walk down memory lane that was as sweet as the delicious cobbler made from them!


Anonymous said...

This is great peggy. Beautiful story!

Jeannie said...

Love this. Your stories are all so entertaining. I love them all! Jeannie

Anne said...

What a lovely story! Makes me think of my childhood.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Peggy, what beautiful stories you weave. I was suddenly back there kicking the can and listening to my own granny singing as she baked a cherry pie. "Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?" "She can bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can wink it's eye. She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother."


Kendra said...

You write such lovely prose peggy. It's a joy to read.