Blackberry Winter Of My Discontent

Blackberry winter officially departed this weekend, burned out of the atmosphere by a day that felt oven-like–as if you could have cooked a blackberry cobbler on the sidewalk rather than huddling inside the house in a sweater like last week.

‘Blackberry winter’ is a period of cool weather that comes in spring when the wild blackberry bushes have already burst into white blooms, frothing over fence posts and draped over hedges and hanging down in thorny curtains over rock faces along roadsides. Then the temperature drops and the sky clouds over and the world takes on a gray tone in which all those white blossoms look almost green in contrast to the sullen weather hanging over them. We dig our sweaters out of the closet one more time, and wish we’d worn socks instead of sandals as the thermometer refuses to inch much above 50 degrees. Dank, dismal, dreadful are the first three words that come to mind to describe this phenomenon.

Blackberry in ‘white dress and green hat’ on a dismally dark day…

Once the sun returns, the blackberries pert up again, changing from blossom to berry–first in green, then red, then the rich, shiny aubergine that heralds ripeness.

I read a little verse about blackberries once years ago–I have no idea who wrote it or where I found it–but it was something like this:

When I wore my white dress, no one noticed me;  [blackberry blooms white]

So I put on my green hat, but no one noticed me; [blackberry forms a green cap/berry]

Then I added my red scarf, and still no one noticed me; [berry turns red but isn’t ripe]

But when I put on my black coat–everyone wanted me! [blackberry is ripe and ready for picking]

If anyone recognizes this little snippet, please let me know. I almost wonder if it was part of the story of Miss Hickory, a Newberry Award winner that I read in the early 1970’s, or something similar? Now I’ve got to know!

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