I tapped on the keys for a while this morning and when it became apparent that no ideas were coming my way, I did the only reasonable thing I could think of — I went blackberry picking.
I was afraid with the recent hot spell, that all the berries would dry up and shrivel on the vine, but we had a good shower yesterday. When we walked this morning, I saw bushes that were hanging full of berries as big as June bugs.
So I left the cursor blinking impatiently on my laptop, and started looking for a good blackberry picking bucket.
The best buckets for picking berries are gallon lard buckets. When I asked Jilda if we had an empty gallon lard bucket, she spewed coffee out her nose. “Yes, they are over there by the eight-track tapes, ” she quipped.
A lot of pigs gave their lives so that we could enjoy lard at every meal, when we were kids. I think mama put lard in our tea. You couldn’t walk around our yard without tripping over a lard bucket.
But today, since we didn’t have a lard bucket, I found a small basket and skulked off down toward the barn. Soon I was stomping my way through the bushes and picking berries.
Picking blackberries is not for wimps. Getting enough berries for a good blackberry pie is costly. The first thing is the thorns. You are not going to pick blackberries without bloodshed.
No matter how careful you are, a limb from a bush will drape over your arm and it is impossible to remove it without sinking a razor sharp thorn into your arm or hand. You can wear long sleeves, long pants, sox, long underwear, and full body armor, but you will still get scratched.
Next, there’s a very good chance you’re going to get chiggers. Some people call them red bugs, but they live in and around blackberry bushes and they love getting in your pants.
It’s also quite common to feel a tick crawling up your arm or you neck. OK, I know several of you just shivered and involuntarily scratched your neck, but I’m just saying….
You may be asking at this point – why on earth would you go through all of that to get a few berries.
Well, it’s the blackberry pie. To me, there is no better summertime treat than a hot blackberry pie. The berries have a sweet-tart flavor with tiny seeds that get stuck between your teeth. This is best when you top it off with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.
Some would argue that apple, strawberry, or blueberry pies are better, but they don’t hold a candle to a blackberry pie in my book. The reason is because most fruits are easy to come by. You stop by Jolly Chollie’s produce stand, pick out some fruit, and make a pie.
But with blackberries, you have some skin in the game, so to speak. You have scratches on your arms and legs, and chiggers down your britches.
So this afternoon, I’ll be working in my office when the intoxicating aroma of blackberry pie wafts through the air. My mouth will water because I know that soon I’ll be enjoying the fruits of my labor. As a bonus, I now have a topic for my column. I love America.