Blackberry Summer

Blackberries, Summer Days and Granny

Blackberries and summer days always elicit thoughts of my dear little Granny. She was special as grandmothers go. She lived in a little house by the sea and it was always such a pleasure to go and visit her there.  While she didn’t have toys for us to play with, there was always something interesting and different to do. She lived down a long dirt road  in the country in a little hamlet called Hampstead.

My sister and I loved to walk that little dirt road and collect sticks, rocks and shells and other little treasures. We used the sticks to draw pictures in the red clay of the dirt road and write messages that we were sure some passers-by might see.There were some eagles that nested on top of some telephone poles at the very end of this little road. It was always exciting to see those eagles.

View of the waterway near my Granny’s land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granny lived right on the ocean sound not too far from Topsail Island. You could hear the sounds of the ocean and the sea gulls while lying in bed at night. It was a magical place to stay as a child. Often we saw barges passing through the intercoastal waterway.

There was a large swimming hole at the end of the lane where Granny lived. She would put on her black skirted bathing suit and pink swim cap with plastic flowers on it and take us swimming. We would swim around in that murky sea green water and hope that a fish didn’t slide past our legs. It was different a kind of fairy land that didn’t exist back in our home town.

She had a little pea green motor boat, that my daddy would take us out for a ride in, we would go fishing and just see the sights of the sound. I can still remember getting stuck on a sand bar while out in that little boat and wishing we had brought something to drink.

Granny loved to play scrabble. She loved to break all the rules too and use every dictionary available. =) She was a wonderful piano player and taught lessons for many years out of her home. She could play the ‘Boogie Woogie’ better than anyone I’ve ever heard. She loved to dance the ‘Charleston’ in her kitchen and sing at the top of her lungs…especially early in the morning when everyone else was still sleeping. I think she really believed in that adage “The Lord respects me when I work, but he loves me when I sing.” She was a singer, or at least she thought so and that is all that mattered.

She had loads of friends, who she fancied to call up very early most mornings and just chat away. She was the essence of happy. Or at least the way I picture it.

She had a little garden and loved to cook. I was especially fond of her waffles, crab cakes and blackberry cobbler. Which brings me to the title of my post Blackberry Summer.  Every summer when we were children, my Granny would make the trip from Hampstead to our home in Midland to visit us.

We lived in a quaint little neighborhood out in the country, on the outskirts of the big city of Charlotte, NC.  There were some railroad tracks that ran behind our neighborhood there.  Wild blackberries grew abundantly near these train tracks. My daddy would take my sister and I blackberry picking along these tracks during the summer. I remember finding marbles along those tracks and other tiny treasures as well.  But the blackberries were the real treasure.

We would bring those blackberries home and my Granny would make blackberry cobbler. One of my fondest childhood memories  is of that purple/black cobbler on a plate smothered in vanilla ice cream. One of the yummiest southern treats EVER.

Memories Are Made Of This…

Today, my dear, sweet Granny is long gone. But her memory lives forever in my heart. The picture I have of her in my mind’s eye, is of her eternally smiling and singing, banging on her old piano while a cobbler or something sweet bakes in her oven nearby. A lovely picture. She was a lady of faith. A faith which I now share with her and treasure very deeply. For that I am grateful. She was not only my grandmother, she was my friend. As I have said before I was doubly blessed when it came to grandmothers. Granny was special.

Blackberry Cobbler

Just today I went up on the hill behind our house, to check on the wild blackberries that grow in a veritable hedge surrounding our upper most back yard. I thought of Granny, her cobblers, her songs, her joy.  I can hardly wait for that first blackberry cobbler of summer. Not just for its yummy goodness, but for the memories it evokes. Always sweet and always grand.

I wanted to share my Granny’s recipe for Southern Blackberry Cobbler. It is as simple as they come. Granny was one of those old fashioned cooks who didn’t go much by the recipes. They were mostly all in her head. But I am blessed that she wrote this one down. Enjoy and have a dish of purple cobbler in memory of a Granny who was always smiling.

The slowly ripening blackberries on the hedge behind our house.

 

Granny’s Southern Blackberry Cobbler

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 tsp. baking powder
Enough fresh blackberries to cover the bottom of a long glass baking dish with a thick layer of berries (Extra sugar for coating the berries)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter in the bottom of the baking dish.
Stir the blackberries together with enough sugar to sweeten them in a bowl.
Pour the sweetened berries into baking dish on top of the butter.
Mix all the remaining ingredients together and pour over the fruit. 
Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes or until the top crust is done. 
Enjoy warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

There you have it folks a recipe as simple and wonderful as the lady my Granny was!

My Sweet Granny and Grandaddy

                      

Granny and Grandaddy aren’t they sweet. She even had the name to go with her beautiful clothes ‘Ida.’ I always thought it was such a vintage name. =)

Sunrise over Topsail Island looking out over the sound. Isn’t it beautiful! 

The moon over the sound. These pictures are courtesy of my sweet auntie who now lives in my Granny’s refurbished house on the sound. So if you are reading this Auntie J. I love you to pieces. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos with me.

On a last little note, when we went up on the hill today to check the blackberries, we picked a few for our resident bunny CoCo. My son reminded me that Coco loves blackberries, just like the bunnies Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail in Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit tale. So here are a few pictures of Coco who is not so chocolate colored anymore, in fact she’s a bit of a blonde…enjoying her blackberries. Have a fantastical weekend. Blessings and Sunshine to you all! 
                                                        Valerie

 


20 Responses to Blackberry Summer

  1. Denise says:

    This post made my heart smile really big, thanks. Appreciate the recipe.

  2. Oh Valerie, what a beautiful tribute to your Granny. You were blessed to grow up in such a lovely place. The sea! My favorite…singing, music, Nature, love – you had it all.

    Thanks for sharing Granny's recipe. As soon as I can get some fresh blackberries, I'm going to make it.

  3. Jacqueline Genes says:

    Valerie, You write the most beautiful stories. I am so glad you were able to share this story about Mother. She was one of a kind. She did love that swimming hole. I never go swimming down here, I don't like the mud going between my toes. I do go to the gym up the road to water classes every day. They have a salt water pool. I hope all are doing well. My Love To All.

  4. Valerie,

    You have a good writing style and I can see you enjoy doing it as you muse over your memories. I love to write also and try to do some writing every day.

    Darryl S.

  5. wow this post is amazing,
    made me think of my own grandparents all the way down to the dirt road sticks rocks blackberries 🙂 thanks or sharing. One thing you dind't mention…THE CHIGGARS!!! the bunny is also adorable!!! thank you for sharing

  6. Sylvia says:

    What great memories you have of your Granny. So beautifully written. When my girls where young we would walk the country road and pick wild blackberries. Sweet memories.

  7. James Bean says:

    Valerie, I loved your memories of mother. There is not a day goes by that I do not think of her, her cooking and her love for life.
    I always remember how when we visited she would say,"You all are free to do whatever you want." Then while sitting at the breakfast table she would say, I have go a big day planned for us today.
    Her homemade waffles were wonderful and she was hurt if I did not eat at least six or eight she thought I was sick.
    If you left mother's house hungry it was your own fault.
    Thanks again for great memories.
    Love you,
    Dad

  8. Barb says:

    Hi Valerie!

    What a fun post – isn't it wonderful to have such amazing memories of your grandparents! Your grandmother truly sounds like she was quite a lady! Beautiful pictures of your grandparents too, they made a very good-looking couple!

    Thanks for posting the recipe – can't have too many good recipes for Blackberry Colbler!

    Your bunny is just too cute, love those cute little furry friends!

    Hugs,
    Barb

  9. Valerie says:

    Dear Denise,
    I am so glad you enjoyed the post. =) I had a lot of fun writing it. Blessings and Sunshine,
    Valerie

  10. Valerie says:

    Dear Vickie,
    Thank you! It was a lovely place to visit and she made it such a fun place to be.
    Enjoy the recipe.
    Blessings and Sunshine,
    Valerie

  11. Valerie says:

    Dear Auntie Jackie,
    I am so glad that you enjoyed the post and honored that you visited my blog. I miss Granny so much and feel very blessed for the time that we had together. That salt water pool sounds like it is right up my alley. 😉 Happy Summer, Val

  12. Valerie says:

    Hi Darryl,
    Thank you for your kind comments. =)
    Blessings and Sunshine, Valerie

  13. Valerie says:

    Dear Gilligan Maryanne,
    Thank you! Sounds like we have a lot in common. =) Yes, the chiggars are the dickens this year. I will have to be extra careful when I go up the hill to pick our berries. Nothing worse than an infestation of chiggars. Been there many times. =)
    Blessings and Sunshine, Valerie

  14. Valerie says:

    Dear Sylvia,
    Thank you. =) Country roads are the best roads of all. What a sweet memory of you and your girls.
    Blessings and Sunshine, Valerie

  15. Valerie says:

    Dearest Daddy,
    I know you must miss her terrible. She was such a lover of life. Didn't you just love all of her plans…at least we never had time to get bored. =)
    Love you much.
    Val
    P.s. Your waffles are just as good as Granny's.

  16. Valerie says:

    Dear Barb,
    Thank you! Yes, she was unique in every way. Enjoy the recipe.
    Blessings and Sunshine,
    Valerie

  17. Mrs R says:

    Valerie, thank you so much for sharing your sweet memories of your grandmother and also her cobbler recipe! I bookmarked this post to try your recipe as soon as I have enough blackberries!

    Your grandmother sounds lovely and so do your childhood visits. Those were the days!

  18. Valerie says:

    Dear Mrs. R,
    Thank you for your wonderfully sweet comment on my post. I hope you enjoy the recipe. It is one of my favorites. My childhood visit to Hampstead were magical.
    Blessings,
    Valerie

  19. Lynn says:

    Valerie, I just love this! I can picture it all clearly. And those photos are just wonderful!!! You story makes me want to go live there!
    Hugs and love,
    Lynn

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Lynn, Thank you! It was a very special place. I miss it! I hope to one day live at the beach too. 😉 Love and hugs, Val

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