Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Almost Time for Sugar Hill Blackberries...

Sugar Hill is a neighborhood behind mine, down Booker Street,  Sugar Hill is Portsmouth's last vestige of the "40 ares and a mule" promised to Southern blacks following Emancipation and the end of the Civil War.

Once there was a thriving black community  there, two little groceries, some churches, a "buttery," and a candy store as residents have told me.  Urban renewal in the 1960's decimated this community as a road was cut right through the middle which serves as an approach to the Mid-Town Tunnel under the Elizabeth River to Norfolk,

Did you ever notice that any street called "Martin Luther King" anything always seems to be around an area where African American's are exploited?  One never sees MLK Blvd near an elegant area.  I don't think this practice represents what Dr. King lived and died for.

In this case, the MLK Freeway was built right over Sugar Hill's graveyard.  Yet, the quiet community still lives on in a few houses and the old folks' memories former days.  One of them is my buddy, Mr. Curtis, a gardener and disabled Vietnam vet whose wife was born in the house they reside in.  He tells me that many of Sugar Hill's residents were porters for the Norfolk Southern railroad, black elite in their white gloves and uniforms helping customers in the sleeping and dining cars during days of posh railroad travel.

I still hear the trains chug past Sugar Hill, but the porters are gone and CSX halls freight instead of people.  Scotts Creek, part of the Elizabeth River, flows around Sugar Hill as it always has, endangered green herons nest in its trees as egrets stand feeding on one foot and Cooper's Hawks circle above.

As I ride through Sugar Hill, I always check this time of year to see if the blackberries are ripe yet.  As you can see from the pic above, they are not quite ready.  The blackberry blossom's intoxicating has me stop my bike on the way past to check.  Honeysuckle blooms there, some kind of purple flower, and Queen Anne's Lace which I gather and take home.
I'll check out Sugar Hill next weekend when I know I can gather some ripe berries in a white enameled pail with a red wooden handle, sharing my bounty with the little red foxes that live on the banks of Scotts Creek and the birds that swoop down to feed there.

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