Blackberry pickin’

When I got home from vacation, it was only to dive right back into work — hence the lack of writing or any kind of online presence. But, I am back! We came home into the height of a hot, dry Seattle summer. Heat is not really my jam… I can’t wait for the rain. But there is one thing about Seattle in late summer — besides its beauty, backyard BBQ’s, forest hikes and sunsets — that is unlike anything else I’ve found anywhere: wild blackberries.

They’re actually an invasive variety, but few people care because they are so delicious. And this summer, for whatever reason, it was the perfect year for blackberries. Truly, there is nothing more delicious that a fat, fresh, ripe blackberry, just off the vine, still warm from the sun… so good. It’s more than that, though. Part of the pleasure is the hunt itself.

Now bear with me, please; I’m crafting a metaphor. It came to me while I was up to my elbows in brambles, reaching for that elusive berry (the perfect ones are always just out of reach, aren’t they?) The most rewarding thing about picking wild blackberries is that you have to fight for them. You have to dare the thorns. You have to look under low-hanging leaves, and find the secret treasures hidden deep. These are not cute, domestic farmed berries. They’re tough, thorny, unkillable thickets whose only goal is survival. (And outgrowing the poor native species.) These berries don’t care about you — their delicious fruits are a prize you have to earn.

Which makes them taste all the sweeter.

Isn’t that the way with a great romance novel? We love reading about lovers who struggle. We want a happy ending, of course — just the way I salivate over a fresh blackberry tart — but we don’t want to just give it to them! Passion comes from the fight; that’s the part we truly love. Conflict and thorns.

As I ease back into my writing routine, I plan to remember that blackberry picking afternoon. How good it felt to reach perilously deep, to snatch that sweet prize and pop it, triumphantly, into my mouth. The burst of warm juice; the earthy grittiness of a wild berry. If I can make my romances feel like that, then we’re all in for a tasty time.

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