Tonight, after spending some time with some friends, I was driving though the backwoods of Columbia County. The air was pungent with the sweet aroma of ripe blackberries.
I have not lived in blackberry territory in decades – since I left Sellwood in the early 90s.
I was thinking that I could go down to the waterfront, listen to some good piano and read my book. So, after a stop at Burgerville, I took the detour to downtown, old town St. Helens. The music was good, so, I read little.
I used to ride my bike around the Oaks Bottom wetlands. It was a gentle ride, but a perfect way to wake up on a cool Summer morning. Before heading home, I’d stop and eat my fill of blackberries. The perfect breakfast starter. It’s amazing how the smell of blackberries this afternoon took me back to that place.
It’s good to take a trip through time now and then
My grandfather worked in the woods. He was a heavy equipment operator and diesel mechanic. Often he would fill his hard hat, or lunch bucket, with fresh blackberries. I get my exploratory nature from him. He loved to explore and he taught me to do the same. I was the son he never had.
When I worked at the fire station on 209th in Aloha, often, in the mornings when I got off work, I would stop at an abandoned building on the corner of 209th and TV Highway. I would pick the abundant blackberries and reflect on the tragedy and healing I’d encountered over the past 24 hours. A fragrance, thought to be lost in time, brings me back to simpler days.
Deadlines and conflict, people and pressures, none of it seemed to matter as the fragrant blackberry aroma wafted through my life this evening. Had I a choice, I’d pick the fragrance over the taste. The taste is fleeting, the fragrance lasts a lifetime.
My grandfather has been gone since 1976. My mother since 2006. Both of them left me a legacy of creativity and an appreciation for the things most people miss. Sweet blackberry fragrance. It’s good to take a trip through time now and then.