Blackberries. Oh, yeah! They do taste like summer to me.
When I was kid, I lived for weeks or months of the summer in the Sierras. Wild blackberries grew everywhere up there, in green, tangled patches down by the river. And lining the dirt roads, each dark, lovely berry muted with its own film of dust. I couldn't be bothered to wash them. I'd wipe them on my swimsuit or my t-shirt, leaving purple streaks my mom could never quite get out in the wash. And then I'd pop them in my mouth.
Oh, my. They were the taste of summer, those ripe dark dusty berries.
Sometimes, in those hot, lazy days, we'd all go out together--my granny, my mom, my Aunt Emma, my sister BJ, my cousins Jimmy and Johnny, and my baby brother, Paul, who loved to fish and always wore the same fishy-smelling orange shirt no matter how often my sister and I shrieked and moaned at his stinkyness. Each of us carried a pail or a pan stolen from the kitchen cupboard. We'd pick those ripe, purple berries for hours, heedless of the thorns, and come home with scratches all over our tanned, bare arms, smiling, pails full of berries.
Granny, Mom and Aunt Emma would make blackberry pie or maybe a cobbler. And jam to give us a sweet taste of summer all through the next winter.
Yesterday, I bought blackberries at the supermarket. No, they're not as sweet and heavy and amazing as the ones in my childhood. But they'll do. Each one brings a faint taste of memory, and a smile.
I'm curious. What tastes most like summer to you?