There were no homicides. We got rid of the stuff, decades-worth, from my parents’ house, their home for 6 decades.  Last month in this blog I referenced the odd book of photos of people around the world seated outside their dwellings, with their possessions washed up around them.  That’s what this was like, only the stuff was on twelve large trailers that put together would have made a good sized lake.  Plus there were all the other treasures too large or too heavy to be lifted on a trailer, bedroom sets, a snow blower, a dead television and old stereo consoles that my father bought for two bucks at a sale just like this sale god knows why. It took us three days nonstop of purging the house.  My siblings all pitched in and it seemed the river of stuff would never end.  (FYI: I have 7 siblings.)  If we had a little more time, we might have gotten awfully sentimental, for this was still “home” for each of us.

Given the potential for disaster, the sale went well.  Early in the week the weather had been remarkably benign, temperatures in the 80’s with light winds, but by Friday the winds were blowing hats off and we were back in real Kansas.   The high on Saturday, the day of the auction, was 105, but Kansas is full of Kansans and this was August, so they came, they bought and they took it all away, praise the lord, even the dead television and stereo consoles. ($1)

Even with all there was to do, I spent some hours getting the yard in shape.  Since May, when I was last there, weeds had begun to take over the flowerbeds, the pushiest a plant the Volga Germans who settled this part of Kansas called schwartzbeeren. It’s a solanum, in the nightshade family.  Intentionally or not, they brought the seed from Russia, and used the berries in their Kuchen and Knebel. My father likes to eat them in a bowl with cream.  Anything edible so willing to grow in western Kansas should merit esteem.  It is said they are sweet when fully ripe, but they tasted bitter to me the few times I ate them.  It is also said they are poisonous but nobody I know ever died from them.  Not even my father.

Now, after years of not ever seeing it, this plant has appeared in several of my San Francisco gardens. One is overshadowing a ‘Guardsman’ phormium in my secluded, shady garden.  There is another in a garden near the beach which I should have pulled before the client decided it was pretty.  It has more babies than Genghis Khan.

I am thinking of it as an envoi from home bearing an encrypted message.  Maybe the promise that after all our voyaging we arrive home, the soul’s true home.  I don’t believe it, but as someone said to me once, you don’t have to.



3 responses to “SCHWARTZBEEREN

  1. Great Richard!! We haven’t been following this blog. Now we will! Joanne

  2. I came across this as I was trying to search for a plant my grandmother in Kansas used to grow. She called it schwartzbeeren and used to make some wonderful stuff with it. What grabbed my attention was the reference to the Volga Germans in western Kansas. That where my father’s family is from and we are Volga German. I have been looking for those darn berries. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

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