Nineteen years ago, Mr. Sayles, the elderly man next door, gave me a few robust thornless blackberry plants. His own patch was mature, well-filled, and spreading too vigorously. He’d dug my gift plants from the space between his second and third row of beans, some fifteen feet out of bounds from the allotted space for blackberries. I prepared a space, planted them, and tended them carefully. They grew and thrived, as did our friendships in our new neighborhood. Within a few years, I could count on 50 pounds of thumb-sized berries for my freezer, plus another week’s worth of pickings for friends and neighbors.

When our family outgrew that little house with its half-acre yard, we moved outside the city to a much bigger house with six acres. I missed seeing our old friends and our impromptu fenceline gatherings, but the warmth of the memories stayed with me, and the offspring from that original blackberry patch created a new patch at our new home. We’re considering another move this summer, this time to a farm. Our farmstead hobbies have once again outgrown the available space. Earlier this spring, in preparation, I moved 20 volunteer offspring to gallon pots to start my next patch of Mr. Sayles’ blackberries. I’ll bring other plants, too, treasured heirlooms with traces of dirt at their roots from many homes. Great-grandmother Cruikshank’s double daylilies, Kathy’s irises, Gloria’s peonies & dutch irises, plus other favorites that have earned their place by beauty or usefulness. A new home becomes home much quicker when these old friends move in with me.