Sandcherry jelly.

There’s a lot of time to think when you’re in the cherry trees, and I often found myself thinking of my grandma. My great grandma. My family has children young- I was born with great-great grandparents and had all of my great grandparents well into my childhood. I still have my great grandma Beulah. She was the one who showed me how to strip berries from the branches without plucking the spurs. A two liter ice cream bucket with baling twine strung through to make a strap and hang around my neck. When the raspberry canes were taller than my head, a dense garden thicket, a forest of the imagination, toads that perched under damp rocks in the heavy clay soil. In the pumpkin patch, my grandfather showed me how to cut a slit in the vine and milk-feed a gourd until it reached gargantuan proportions, load it onto the back of a truck with care to take it to the fall fair and maybe find a blue ribbon tacked to it. Everything grew in that garden, a skill so long lost and removed from my time that it seems like magic now, cucumbers dangling pendulous from the vine and riots of tomatoes crowding for space, pulling the plant down to the ground with their weight. I had a path  mowed through the hayfield between my childhood home and my grandparents house and along the way, secret berry patches, hawberry and raspberry and wild strawberry scented before seen, the odor pungent and lingering underfoot long before the berries came to fruit. Time alone in wild spaces with splitrail fences and deer and birds and berries at hand. Generations of the women of my family in the sand dunes and running barefoot ahead of them through streams and ponds, gathering sand cherries into my bucket to make jelly. Nobody else makes sandcherry jelly to spread on toast, peculiar purple red and bitter-sweet.

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