Saturday, July 05, 2008

Blackberry Picking 101

It's berry picking time again and Miss Brenda and I have the purple hands and scratched forearms to prove it. But the stain and pain is worth the taste of a spoonful of Miss Brenda's blackberry jam on a hot buttered biscuit. I'm quite sure that in a simpler, less civilized time wars were fought over this particular resource. I know my dander gets up at the sight of Miss Brenda giving away a jar from her larder.

It occurs to me that not all of you, who waste precious rod and cone time perusing my rambles, may have an appreciation for the fine art and hard science of blackberry picking. Therefore, in my never-ending quest to educate my dear readers, I provide below a primer on the subject:

1. Find a blackberry bramble. These nearly impenetrable labyrinths of thorny canes harbor the mature plants upon which fruit is found. Blackberry brambles exist in those places that most sane and snake-fearing people dare not tread...until they have sampled a spoonful of Miss Brenda's jam. Blackberry brambles are renown in deer hunting circles, where they are commonly referred to as "them #$%&! sticker bushes." As in "I trailed that deer through a couple hunert yards of them #$%&! sticker bushes and came out lookin' like I went three rounds with a bobcat."

2. Approach the bramble with the sun to your back. This allows for the accomplishment of three important tactical objectives. First, a ripe blackberry glistens in the sun like a flake of gold in a prospectors pan. Second, the sun on the back of your neck allows for enhancement of your redneck image. Third, attacking from the sun allows you to sneak up on the berries.

3. Move slowly and purposefully. This allows for the accomplishment of three more important tactical objectives. First, charging headlong into a blackberry bramble will result in inextricable ensnarement--reach slowly to pluck the berry in your sights and retract your hand and arm in the same plane and trajectory. Second, charging headlong into a blackberry bramble does not give the folks with no shoulders time enough to slither out of your way. Third, charging headlong into a blackberry bramble causes ripe berries to fall from the canes. A berry that falls is lost to the picker--blackberry bramble labyrinth density increases exponentially with proximity to the ground.

4. Always carry a smaller bucket than everyone else. This allows you to fill your bucket faster and allows you to disdainfully empty your full bucket into your partner's half-full bucket to lighten your load.

Next post: Home remedies for chigger bites.
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