It's blackberry season in Vancouver. Blackberries grow wild and free all over Vancouver, by roadsides, in alleys and yards, and - best of places - along train tracks.
Last Tuesday Matthew and I were invited to inspect Cousin Carolyn's new home in Kerrisdale, a neighbourhood close to ours. We all walked over to 41st Ave for sushi and Asian cakes, and on the walk back to Carolyn's we followed the defunct trainline, picking berries and getting scratched.
Matthew and I were inspired by the modest haul, and on Friday night after work I trained to Richmond to meet Matthew. You may remember last year, when we did the same. We may have missed the peak by a couple of days, but there were still loads of blackberries to be had.
We spent half an hour systematically stripping the thickets along the train line in Richmond. Well, I was systematic. Matthew was more of a browser-and-grazer. I would meet up with him along the roadside, and ask 'have you done this bit?' and he would say 'sort of, I just go with the perfect ones.' Um, it's blackberry season. They're all perfect. So we finally called a halt to it when we had filled every makeshift receptacle we had with us: two plastic lunch boxes, a supermarket bag, and a charming and large golden tin which used to have nougat in it, which Matthew appropriated from work.
When we got home, there was lots of washing and sorting to be done. We decided to refrigerate enough for one pie, and freeze the rest. I snuck some into a bowl for dessert, with a drizzle of maple syrup.
On Saturday (after a gruelling day spent in the computer lab at UBC, where I churned out 1000 words of thesis, which is more than I've written the whole month prior) we had Martina and Stu around for some well-deserved wine and cheese. Because I'm a last-minute sort of a person, I decided that a good time to make that blackberry pie would be when they were arriving. I was fussing in my apron, swearing like a galley cook, and they were quite gracious about it. The pie crust was a humiliating reminder of how out of practice I am at shortcrust pastry. And despite cooling for half an hour on the counter (and driving me salivatingly wild with the wafting warmth of it), it still oozed all over everyone's plates.
Life lesson learned: pie is always better the next day.
This morning, after a night of boardgames, cheese, wine, and heywhynot?cocktails, Matthew and I dragged our sorry rears out of bed and around our neighbourhood on the longest run we have ever done: 9 whole miles! Our post-run post-breakfast pie had good form, great taste, and stunning interior integrity.
I mean, look at it. It's love on a plate.
A special thanks to Martina and Stu for a great night of the finer things in life, and to Cousin Carolyn for firming our resolve to pick blackberries.