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Store-bought berries just aren’t the same

It just feels wrong to buy berries at the grocery store.

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We buy ours in the grocery store. The warehouse-bulk grocery store clear across town to be exact. And that pains me every time I place them in the cart.

But, oh, do my children love blackberries! The sweet ones and tart ones. Juicy ones and dry ones. Black ones and purple ones.

I watch them pop them into their mouths, juice dribbling down their chin. And I am overcome with sadness.

“This is not how blackberries should be eaten by little children” is all I can think as my eyes rest on them sitting at our fancy kitchen table with the air conditioning humming.

Blackberries are meant to be eaten outdoors in the heat of the summer. Early July’s sweaty air, clinging to the flannel shirts and thick pants that shield your body from the snakes in the undergrowth.

Blackberries are meant to be eaten in secret as you hide behind the tall brush, on the lookout for an aunt who will tell your mother that you’re putting more in your mouth than in the bucket.

Blackberries are meant to be eaten in the back of a rusty farm truck. One that will break down as it carries you back to the lake, forcing you, cousins, aunts, uncles – the whole family – to trek back to the campsite with fat berries sustaining us all the way.

Children should eat blackberries so that they will know which ones to pick – which ones are best for popping like candy, which make the best cobblers, and which are best to feed to your baby brother when you want to see him make a pucker-face.

Blackberries should mean something, I think. They should remind you of fireworks and fishing and crickets singing outside the tent. They should be warm and crunchy-soft, served with cheap ice cream from a large plastic tub.

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