On Friday, I pause and remember a single, wordless moment from the past week – inspired by The Warden’s Log.
Rusty likes blackberries. It came as quite a surprise to me. We had gotten Rusty from the shelter in 1999 when he was four months old.
At the time, we lived on two acres in a rural area on the Ohio/Indiana border called Blue Jay. One day, I was preparing blackberries and looked down to see Rusty staring expectantly at me or rather, at the plump blackberry in my hand. I had never given a tart, wild blackberry to a dog before, but that’s what he seemed to want. He loved it. Luckily, I had buckets of berries picked from our wild thicket in the backyard, so he got a fair share of our bounty.
I took Rusty with me when I went out to pick berries – not always a good thing for me. I had taken off my straw hat for a minute and looked around to see this.
I wasn’t happy that my hat was all gnawed around the edges.
I scolded him a little, but not enough to warrant this sad reaction.
A year later, I wrote a piece for a web site about Rusty and his favorite fruit.
BLACKBERRY TIME IN BLUE JAY – Rusty, our year-old hound, seems to know when the blackberries are ready for picking. He takes off toward the back yard on a brisk trot, straining at his leash – past the asparagus bed and rhubarb, along the border of the vegetable garden, down to the very edge of the property where the wild blackberries grow. Rusty plucks off all the berries he can reach, always choosing the choice center berry, ignoring the thorns that prickle his nose. We still have plenty of dark, lustrous berries to carry back to the house in our graniteware bucket to cook up into summertime treats such as Blackberry Cobbler.
That was the last summer I could put on my tattered straw hat and take Rusty down to the blackberry patch. My husband’s condition worsened and we had to move to a property I could manage alone. David has been gone for over 7 years, but Rusty is still with me, an elderly 12-year-old, and I still get some blackberries at the farm market and make that good Blackberry Cobbler from a recipe found in an old Farm Journal Pie cookbook.
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 cup boiling water
4 cups blackberries
1 T butter
½ tsp cinnamon or ¼ tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for one minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and gently stir in the blackberries.
Pour this mixture into an ungreased 10” x 6 x 2 inch baking dish or a 1-½ qt casserole.
Dot with butter and sprinkle with spices.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tblsp. granulated sugar
1-½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup shortening
½ cup milk
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Stir in the milk.
Drop spoonsful of dough over the hot fruit filling.
Bake in a 400 F degree oven about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
Rusty still gets an occasional ripe blackberry tossed his way.
Sunday was so beautiful – sunny, blue, bright, cheerful. I took my hound Rusty for our early morning walk and was surprised to see a sign taped, of all places, on the fire hydrant. We got closer to read it and I had to admire the marketing strategy – some teenagers were advertising a Dog Wash.
For $10 they are willing to wash your dog – provided he is friendly. That leaves Rusty out – he’s very friendly unless someone comes at him with soap and water.
It was so nice to be able to walk in the neighborhood and see the grass getting greener every day, the spring flowers starting to bloom and have the weather be warm enough to wear just a light jacket. It has taken awhile, but spring finally arrived yesterday.