Before we came down to Sacramento to dog-sit my brother’s dog, I spent nearly three hours picking blackberries on the land.

Near the barn is a huge cedar tree, with a smaller deciduous tree entwined with it. At the bottom of these closely-combined trees is a large blackberry bush, which spreads out on every side.

For the past few weeks, I have monitored the gradually ripening fruit. They’ve gone from pink to red to nearly black, and a good-sized crop was finally ready to pick on Sunday.

I’ve never picked blackberries before in my life.

At first, my choice of apparel was wrong, wrong, wrong. As soon as I saw that the berries were ripe, I immediately began picking. Unfortunately I was clad in just shorts and flip-flops. What a city slicker!

It soon became apparent that I needed more protection from the brambles and stickers, so I changed to long pants, long-sleeved shirt, hiking boots and then donned a pair of gloves.

Much better.

Some of the blackberries looked ready to pick, but in fact were not. I quickly learned how to gauge how easily they came off the vine. If there was any resistance at all, I left them to ripen for a couple more days.

But many berries practically dropped into my hand without effort. Juicy, sweet, so full of flavor. What a rush, and a surprising source of entertainment!

The simplest things are often the best.

I really got into picking. I searched the dilapidated bunkhouse kitchen for suitable containers to hold the increasing bounty, and found one plastic bowl without a lid.

After this was quickly filled, I went back and rifled through an ancient wooden kitchen cabinet and came up with several dusty plastic “Big gulp” beverage cups hiding in a dusty corner. After I rinsed them with a little bottled water, these too, were filled to the brim.

I had a sh**-load of blackberries!

We gave one container to the owner of the land, our dear friend L. in Nevada City, on our way down the hill to Sacramento. She was thrilled, and said that the blackberries would taste wonderful with mango sorbet. I’ll have to try that!

Another container went to my brother and his wife, who took them up to Arcata the next day when they visited their daughter.

For dessert that night, James and I had blackberries with lemon sorbet, which just happened to be in the freezer. Yum!

There was still plenty left over for blackberry jam. James has an extremely easy recipe, using agar-agar as a thickening agent, and stevia root powder for sweetener. Since there are no preservatives, it has to be kept in the refrigerator (or freezer). No problem there, since we’d scarf it up soon enough anyway.

We had blackberry jam spread over toasted sourdough bread this morning and it was HEAVEN.

I think I’m going to like living in the woods. Very much.