Grow up picking berries: blueberries in New Jersey with one grandfather, raspberries in Connecticut with another grandfather, blackberries at the end of the driveway at home. Eat them fresh all summer, cooked into jams by your grandmothers, baked into pies by your mother.
Take this all for granted.
Read the berry books so often you can recite them from memory: Jamberry (“One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry”) and Blueberries for Sal (“Ker-plink, ker-plank, ker-plunk”).
Fly your sons from San Francisco to Connecticut as often as possible — and especially every summer — to roam in your father’s garden and orchard. Plant, weed, harvest. Bake the fruit into cobblers and crisps, learn to make jam. Hesitate over pie, your mother’s specialty.
Tour assisted living communities. Make lists and spreadsheets. Fly to Connecticut more often. Sort, toss, donate, pack. Hire movers. Keep very busy inside. Be grateful that it’s winter.
In San Francisco, hang bookshelves, hang curtains, hang pictures. Sort and unpack. Collect your parents from the airport and sigh with relief when they say the new apartment looks like home. Know it will be awhile before it feels like home.
Be grateful that it’s summer. Remember that blackberries grow wild in the Presidio. Take your father and sons berry picking. Consider: have you come full circle, or started drawing a new circle?
Bake a pie.
Preheat the oven to 450.
For the crust:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup ice water
Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse 4-5 times, until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle in the water and pulse again until the dough starts to come together. Dump the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface, divide in half, and refrigerate one portion, wrapped in plastic, while you roll out the other portion and fit it into a 9″ pie pan. Put the dough-lined pan into the fridge and roll out the reserved portion into a circle wide enough to cover the pie. Put it on a plate and refrigerate while you make the pie filling.
For the filling:
3 cups peeled and sliced peaches (from 4-5 peaches, depending on your fruit; a nectarine or two is a nice addition)
3 cups blackberries
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup brown sugar
zest of one lemon
1-2 tablespoons melted butter
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon sugar
Combine the fruit, cornstarch, brown sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl and then pour into the dough-lined pan. Cover with the top crust, folding the top over the bottom crust to seal, and crimp the edges. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut some steam vents in the crust.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown and you can see juices bubbling in the center of the pie.
Cool on a rack before serving. The pie is delicious served warm, with ice cream; the juice will set as the pie cools, making it an excellent breakfast treat.