Washington has native blackberries that send dainty trailing vines along the ground in the mountain forests. However, the variety in our yard and pretty much everywhere in the area is not the native berry but a persistent, invasive plant with choking vines and vicious thorns. I'm quite sure these plants rank alongside cockroaches in their ability to survive the apocalypse.
We bought our home late in the fall and moved in early winter. Many months passed before we had our first glimpses of the plants hibernating in the yard. For the most part, our house was flanked by low-maintenance greenery interrupted by sparse hints of color.
The simplicity of the yard came as a dull relief. On one hand I found the landscape lacking spunk, on the other, my weight and girth inhibited my ability to do much yard work so I left the garden to grow unaltered.
In the spring we noticed the tips of blackberry vines poking their leaves over our back fence. Each week they crept a little further toward the yard. In early summer the vines sprouted delicate white blossoms and a month or so later produced fruit. A perfectly ripe blackberry is soft and juicy with a sweetness so mellow it could lull an eater into a nectar-induced trance.
They are a bit seedy for some but the tender flesh can be easily worked through a sieve to leave just the syrupy sweet juice for jelly or sorbet.
But in the mid to late summer the treacherous vines burst forth with berries and for about a month we can forgive them their aggressive behavior.
I'm not much of a jam maker. Instead, we pick the berries once or twice a week and tuck them in the freezer to brighten the grey months of winter. We also enjoy them fresh and more than a few make their way into pancakes, pies, or muffins - like these.