In the late morning a(lmost midday), sun-drenched hayfield, the air is filled with the buzz and drone of insects and the short, undecided flights of white cabbage butterflies, yellow sulphurs, checkerspots, and grasshoppers. Overhead lazy clouds cross the blue sky in crowds, but only traffic out on the highway, audible above the more immediate and peaceful fields and orchards, hurries forward on a fast trajectory.
It has not been a good season for stone fruits, but brambles have produced abundantly—first raspberries, now blackberries, soon thimbleberries and, on small, weedy trees, mulberries. On the hillside next to Claudia’s road grow the blackberries. Large, luxuriantly green, toothed leaves hide a multiplicity of thorns, borne along sturdy canes as well as on the smaller, fruit-bearing branches. Flowering long ago finished, each former blossom’s sepals bend gracefully downward under a corolla of delicate, dry stamens. Heavy clusters at cane ends hold mall green berries, large ripe fruit, and tiny white stubs where ripe berries and cores have dropped or been pulled away—many stages of life together on each stem.
Blackberries and grasses form a dense, almost impenetrable tangle on the hillside, intermixed with wildflowers and small trees, the advance guard of the woods. The fruit is a lure, and those feeding on it will spread the seeds abroad.