Monday, September 03, 2012

Discovery Park In Blackberry Season

Every time I visit Seattle, there is the joy of walking into Discovery Park. I know the loop trail, the park's giant conifer and madrona trees, the windy walk along the bluff and the narrow paths through thickets and meadows that often lead to bountiful wild blackberry bushes.
It is amazing to me that there is such an uncivilized green space in a city. The park is well used by joggers and hikers and folks walking their dogs, but not a bit of it is manicured or anchored with picnic tables and benches and concrete walkways. 
It is both foresty and grassy and is crisscrossed with pathways through tall grasses. These days, the park is also about blackberries. They are plentiful this year and there for the picking. Not a native plant, blackberries can take over a meadow and must be hacked back each year. There are lots of folks who'd do away with them altogether, but then there are folks like me, who love to pick these succulent berries. Now is the season. 
I've picked berries three times in as many days and Mary B and I will go to the park again tomorrow to fill another basket of these lush berries.
Dad used to walk several miles in Discovery Park every day. During berry season he carried a can or a basket for berries. Mom liked the berries, but after a few weeks, she'd protest that she'd made enough cobblers and pies and vinegar and jam. We loved it all.
Yesterday I poured white vinegar over two bowls of blackberries. After 48 hours, I'll strain the juice through cheesecloth and pour the dark fruity vinegar into glass jars. I'll gift my sister and daughters with jars and ship the rest home to Houston where I'll use it in green salads thick with mango slices. It is sublime.
Tonight I emptied another basket of berries into a deep pot, doused them with sugar and brought all to a boil. Berry juices thickened as I boiled 4 ounce glass jars. Now I've got blackberry jam to ship home. Or blackberry sauce if the berries' natural pectin was not quite enough to thicken juice into jam. In either case, the result is delicious.
Perhaps tomorrow is the day to walk the three mile loop trail with Mary B. Up and down hills, through forest groves and high on the bluff overlooking the glassy blue Puget Sound. That and a basket of berries.

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