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Blackberry summerPosted Wednesday, July 23, 2008, at 9:58 PM
These blackberries (Well, some are red, but those aren't ripe, of course) are growing in a convenient location along my lane, but the ever-present poison ivy plant still lurks among the leaves, so watch out!!
Blackberries usually get ripe in the month of July, a normally sweltering time of year in Southeast Missouri, when no person in his/her sane mind would want to cover up in the long pants and long sleeves necessary when tracking the wild blackberry.
That was always my problem and the reason why I had to retire from the sport many years ago. In my great foolishness, I tried to pick blackberries in shorts and sleeveless tops. (Well, actually, the blackberries were not in shorts. I doubt that they even owned a pair...) Because of my idiocy, I had to go to the doctor for shots after every excursion into the blackberry brambles. My husband, who could pull poison ivy up by the roots with no reaction (from either himself or the poison ivy) finally suggested that the blackberries had become too expensive, when factoring in the doctor bills.
Poison ivy is not the only vicious beast lurking in the blackberry patch. There are, in no particular order of significance:
1) Chiggers (very small red bugs, who, for some unknown reason, like to get under your skin, much like a certain blogger we all know and love...) Once firmly burrowed under your hide, these red bugs itch and itch and ITCH, until you paint them with fingernail polish and wait for them to suffocate.
2) Stink bugs (green or brown), who lurk on the berries until some unsuspecting human pops one in his/her mouth, and then voila! What a surprise!
3) Ticks, which crawl up from ground level, searching for a home sweet home, from which to set up housekeeping and grow, and grow, and GROW.
4) Copperheads - those ill-tempered and not at all shy beauties with the lovely orange-and-brown-patterned skin and the big pointy teeth.
5) Rattlesnakes - a noisy but somewhat less ill-tempered slithery creepy-crawly member of snakedom. A stomping, beating, noisy entrance on your part MAY scare these creatures off - unlike the copperhead, who will simply lie in wait for you and bite your leg off...
Doesn't blackberry picking sound like fun??
Ah, but it's all worth it, as this berry is simply packed with antioxidants and the most fiber of any fruit. You can make blackberry cobbler (my own personal favorite use of the berry), wine (my son's own personal favorite use of the berry), jam (seeds still in it), jelly (strained through muslin to remove the seeds and pulp)...And I guess that's about all we ever did with them. I'm sure there are some other uses that I haven't thought of.
So, there you have it, folks. Put on your wide-brimmed Indiana Jones hat, your long-sleeved shirt, long pants and tall boots, spray yourself with a coating of Deep Woods Off, and take the plunge into the blackberry patch!
This is your rural blackberry blogger, Madeline, signing off from the green, poison ivy-covered hills of downtown Tillman, Missouri.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.