Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blackberry pickin' time

Every summer our yard turns into a jungle. With nearly two acres of trees, little grass, several hundred daylillies and a willingness to let it all be natural, by this time of year, the yard begins to look like no one could possibly live amongst all that greenery. And while I gaze at photos of beautifully manicured and landscaped plots and suffer pangs of garden envy, I get over it by picking blackberries throughout the month of July.

For those of you who've never picked blackberries, let me tell you, it's a challenge. Blackberry bushes have big, sharp thorns that prick at your clothes or bare legs. And they grow in the shade. You can't just stand at the edge of a blackberry thicket and pluck berries without getting dirty. Nope, you have to get in amongst the thorns, where chiggers and snakes like to live.

The first time I remember picking blackberries I was a teenager. My uncle had told me that snakes like to live where blackberries grow. My job, I decided, rather than actually picking berries, was to beat two sticks together and holler, "go away snakes," on a regular basis. My strategy worked. We didn't see a single snake that day.

I'm not quite as vocal now in my snake-shooing. But I do wear shoes and socks and keep one eye on the ground at all times, looking for anything that slithers. A jungle like ours could comfortably harbor serpents the likes of which haven't been seen since the garden of Eden.

It's worth the scratches, the chigger bites and the fear every time I pop one of these homegrown berries into my mouth. I guess as long as blackberries are the payoff, I'll admire landcaped yards in photos and keep the jungle we call home.

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