Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Acres of Blackberries

Blackberries are the curse and bane of Washington property owners. There are people who make their living by destroying the thorny, crawling bushes that will take over sheds, plants, meadows, fences and pastures. We passionately hate blackberry bushes ~ until fall, when the berries are ripening on someone else's land. :)

Maggie and I headed to the river this morning armed with hope and two baskets. We started down at the farthest point and worked our way up to the main road.

Picking blackberries requires stealth and planning and a system. You have to find a patch off the road so it hasn't been sprayed or contaminated. You casually forget to tell anyone else where your patch is, because if you keep it groomed, you can go back every couple days and keep picking what ripens.

Long, thick sleeves and pants are a must. Gloves don't work as you have to sort of wriggle your hand into the brambles, cup it and entice each ripe berry to roll off your thumb into your hand until there's a handful to put in the basket. The less you have to put your arm in and out, the fewer scratches you get. Only the blackest ones roll off easily. They are tender, so you can't layer them too deep. You have to treat them gently.

Maggie wanted one every so often. I popped a few in every other handful, hoping there weren't bugs hiding. If so, I got my protein......

As we worked our way up to the road, I heard some really loud things crashing from the trees. Figured I had disturbed a bird's nest or something or pinecones were falling. Putting my earbuds back in, I kept going - we were on a roll! I started hearing this loud crashing and thunking in the bushes over the top of the music. Took the earbuds out and peered through the brush and brambles without seeing anything. It sounded like it was coming directly towards us and Maggie wouldn't go check it out for nothing! I tried forcefully saying, "Sick 'em, Maggie" to no avail. She just wagged her tail.

I decided we had enough blackberries for the day. It could have been a buck grazing, a bear who was hungrily collecting berries also, someone guarding a meth lab camouflaged in the cedars or a neighbor who didn't want his favorite berry patch robbed and wanted to scare me. I didn't run, but I did look back. Casually, of course, like hair was in my eyes.

Came home and washed, sorted and bagged about 8 quarts. I'm feeling grateful, like I should make the property owner a blackberry crumble, blackberry tarts or at least a blackberry pie.......but I'm pretty sure he's an apple man. Macintosh to be exact.

No comments: