It was the last day of school and my siblings and I were on the bus heading to our grandparents’ house. As the great yellow bus rounded the last corner hill before our stop, a warm summer breeze blew through the bus window. I smiled as I looked out the window and saw finches and sparrows flying about the fields. It was then I knew summer vacation had officially begun.
When the bus finally stopped, we quickly headed out the bus door to greet our grandfather who was waiting for us in the driveway. In the distance, my grandmother was toiling away in a thick, spindly brush patch along the road. My brother and I both looked at each other and then quickly went to investigate.
Our grandmother, as we watched, picked blackberries. Seeing us, she stopped her work and gave each of us a loving hug. She then walked us to the house and into the kitchen, where she quickly found a tray and poured the berries from her bucket. She then set to cleaning them of leaves and bugs and we helped. As we worked, my grandmother paused and clasped her hands together. A smile drew upon her face as she watched us. She began to tell a story.
Sarah Sutton was known as the Midwife of Donbridge, but she was also known for spirited talents which were cheered by Donbridgians as useful in a pinch. She was a bright woman and had saved the town many times with the help of her mentor, a medicine woman who only appeared to Sarah in her dreams.
Now as it was, Sarah was very in tune with nature, and for this reason she always made sure there was a balance between the town, the people, the land and the animals. She lived by this strong virtue and because of this, she kept vigilant, seeing problems where most saw none.
One of the most notable things about Donbridge was that it had grown up in the heart of a valley, which was in turn surrounded by massive fields spanning for miles in every direction. Legend said no Lenape Native Americans ever built their villages in the valley out of fear the snows would block them in. But the people of Donbridge, having never had a massive winter since their first settler, William Donbridge, arrived, never saw a danger. Luckily for them, the midwife did see a problem and began to take action.
Working with a local gardener, Mr. Teakwood, Sarah cultivated and grew large numbers of blackberry bushes. She worked tirelessly planting them along the many roads of Donbridge. As she worked, many Donbridgians laughed, claiming she was wasting her time, but Sarah ignored them and planted the bushes the entire length of the roads which led into and out of Donbridge. When she was done, many people wanted the plants removed as they ruined the natural scenery of the town and fields.
The townsfolk became angry that their beautiful town was ruined by Sarah’s blackberry bushes. Soon a meeting was held in the town church and it was decided that the bushes would need to be removed in two days.
As the hours passed, a massive cold front enveloped the valley, dropping temperatures below freezing. Farm troughs were frozen and morning dew turned to bitter frost. By the morning of the second day, snow began to fall and strong winds prevailed. The snow fell for three days and the wind drifted the snow over 10 feet high in most places. The townsfolk were in shock as their town was buried, but where the blackberries were planted, every road to and from Donbridge was clear of snow. Because of Sarah, people were able to walk to the neighboring town of Sleepy Hollow where they waited ‘til the snows had cleared Donbridge.
When Grandma finished her story, she reached for a bowl, a rolling pin and a pie plate. As we watched her, we saw a picture hung near the cabinet of a girl standing in a cleared roadway with snow piled above her head on either side. Grandma went about her work as we sat in astonishment.
“I think these berries will make a nice pie,” she said as she set to work making a crust, never once glancing at the photo and smiling all the while.
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
2/3 cup of shortening
With a pastry fork, mix ingredients together until mixture becomes granulated. Then slowly add cold water while mixing the ingredients together. Finally, the dough for the crust will form. At this point, set aside.
5 cups of blackberries
2 tablespoons of flour
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients. Grease a 9-inch pie pan. Divide crust dough in half and roll out separately. Lay bottom crust in the pie pan and then pour in filling. Place second pie crust on the top and flute edges together. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake until edges are golden brown.