Tuesday, January 12, 2016


We picked our first tee-shirt-ful of blackberries today.

And even though I don't consider myself to be the slightest bit religious, I said a little prayer. Well actually I said half a prayer because I got rid of the beginning and only said the end. It's a Jewish prayer and the transliteration is - shehecheyanu vekiymanu vehigyanu lazman hazeh - and I think it translates to something like - thank you to you who has granted us life, who has sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.

I just checked the blessing out on Wikipedia and traditionally it is recited 'when doing or experiencing something that occurs infrequently from which one derives pleasure or benefit.'

For me though the prayer is about the picking and tasting and celebrating the first fruit or vegetable of the season. I like the concept of choosing bits from here and there to give meaning and value to moments. I like stopping to notice and acknowledge and be grateful.

All through his married life my grandfather would bring the first fruits of the season home to his darling wife, my grandmother. He would then recite the blessing and they would enjoy the sweetness together. When I still lived at home with my family, every Sunday morning my grandfather would come over early with a box stuffed full of bagels, fresh fruit and vegetables. Anytime there was anything new, anything we hadn't tasted in many months, he would recite the blessing and together we would gobble the fresh cherries, or corn, or tomatoes.

After we moved to our farm this blessing took on a new meaning for me as we were growing so much of our own produce. It wasn't just the newness we were celebrating anymore, but the whole process that brought us to the ripe fruit. Everything from the seeding to the weeding to the watering. Every week my grandparents would come and visit and spend the day with us and anytime we had something new for him to taste he would hold the fruit in his hand close to his face, he would close his eyes and recite the blessing and then he would give my grandmother the first bite, follow it with his bite and then he would rave about how wonderful it was. I loved it when the girls started joining in. I loved the whole ritual. It made something so simple into an occasion.

Today we picked and ate our first blackberries of the season. Generally I'm not such a fan of the little black fruit, but the first of the season felt special. I recited my half of the blessing, Miss Pepper ate one and then I followed. I only wish my grandfather could have been here to share the moment and our berries. I'll have to take him some when we visit on the weekend.

Do you have any special seasonal rituals?
Do you like blackberries?
Can you believe that I told my Dad I could write this blog post in one or two sentences?

I hope you're enjoying the sweetness of your season whatever it may be.

Love Kate

ps Happy birthday Abby!


  1. How wonderful! I love your words, I could feel the love, gratitude and reverence. I love how you share snippets of your life - past and present entwined. Beautiful as always xx

  2. The shehecheyanu is my favorite prayer. On Kol Nidre evening, the entire congregation recites this out loud, and the emotion of it is beyond words. We've made it from one Yom Kippur to the next.

  3. Lovely to count the blessings of our gardens. I hope your grandfather enjoys the blackberries. Memories carried with food are powerful things. I am so enjoying reading your posts. They usually appear early in the morning here in the UK and add pleasure to my mornings. All my vegetables are still seeds nestling in their box, so it is so nice to hear about your harvesting, even if you are still planting a little later because of your trip. Elaine x

  4. Your post is so beautiful, summing up the importance of love, family and appreciating nature's bounty. My grandfather always presented my grandmother with the first jewels of a crop too. He would cycle home from the allotment with the fruit or veg in a basket and a few flowers wrapped in newspaper on the top.

  5. Lovely Kate
    I love blackberries but if someone makes fresh blackberry jam for me I am in heaven!!!

  6. This is such a lovely story Kate. Your grandad sounds like a great man.
    And I've tried growing berries over the years but our intense easterly winds & searing heat always kill plants before the magic happens. This year however I planted a blackberry & raspberry plants hoping I could work some magic of my own & keep them alive. So far the raspberry is still ok but the blackberry is not. I'm still hoping & talking to them & dreaming about fresh berries.....

  7. What a lovely way to savour what is definitely a special moment. I loved reading about your memories with your Grandfather and Grandmother.
    Those berries look delicious!

    Sarah x

  8. What a beautiful family story Kate, that makes the world a better place.
    Every year I stand under our apricot tree and I pick the 1st apricot of the season, I close my eyes and look up to the sky and eat it. I say a little prayer of thanks, I think about the day we planted the orchard, and look forward to doing it again next year. The apricot is warm and I listen to our little Silkie chooks clucking at my feet.
    Coincidently my little ritual was this morning !
    Light and love, Jude

  9. So much gratitude Kate, gorgeous post x

  10. So beautiful, so beautiful love this memory and ritual!! and when you take your blackberries to your Grandpa you'll have to pray with him.
    We lost my Grandmother a few years back and as the years pass I realise more and more how pivot-able she was on my life

  11. I can almost feel how special this ritual would feel. The memory you have shared is beautiful.

  12. That sounds really lovely.
    I have no special seasonal rituals but I do have one when I go to a new place or a place significant to me where there is water. I touch the water, thank it and ask for safe passage through its "lands".
    I hope you are coping with the heat and then the storms that follow. It was 41C in Melbourne before (it's 45F or 7C here at the moment).

  13. Beautiful Kate. Rituals and traditions are so valuable when raising our children. I love that mine, now mainly grown up, are carrying on some of the ones we included. I am enjoying your blog very much. Thank you.

  14. We love blackberries - I would love to plant some one day but they are a declared weed in South Australia - they were taking over the Adelaide Hills and crowding out the natural habitat.

  15. I love stone fruit, so always especially enjoy the first of the season, then savour the fruits while they last over Summer. Thank you for sharing the prayer - it's beautiful.

  16. I'm going out to pick more of ours tomorrow! JAMMMMM!!! :D


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