Blackberry Summer

i ate theseIt starts with the smell of Bug Spray. Not really a pleasant smell but one that instantly sends flashes of memories, like sunscreen brings beach trips to mind, bug spray says…

hot, summer, humid, sticky, itchy, sweet blackberry picking time.

I’ve been picking blackberries every summer with my Deddy for as long as I can remember and he would make jelly and jam. Now I’m the one making the jelly and jam when I can. Some years back he planted thornless blackberries and they produce enough that he will never have to place his foot into a chigger patch again. blackberries

But I sure miss those picking days with him. We’d get up early, get a biscuit at Hardees on the way, spray down with Off, and carry our buckets into the thickest of blackberry patches. He was so brave. Always going for the biggest berry just out of reach, hanging there plump and beautiful. We had an ongoing competition on who found the biggest.

For many years we would have Kevin drop us off at the top of this mountain and we would spend hours and hours walking down the mountain on this country road picking berries all along the way and pick our car up at the bottom. The “best” patch would change from year to year, shifting location along this gravel road. Deddy would always be the first to bleed. I can still picture him the time he returned from his adventurous exploit with a thorn in his nose!

One time we encouraged mom to go. I think I was pregnant with Drew.  It had just rained and was the most delightful of days. We would stand under a tree and shake it on each other and the cool raindrops felt so refreshing. Sometimes Kevin would go too. And as the boys came along they tagged along a summer or two. I recall one of them coming back minus one sock. Nature called.

I remember one time we found the dream patch along a steep incline. Deddy turned his full bucket over. I am quite sure the silence was broken with a dirty word. And the next year on the very hill, I heard a snap and then crashing noises as he rolled several times down the hill. Luckily a tree stopped his rolling. We laughed and laughed about the “snap” of the small tree he was pulling himself up the hill with. I still think of this every time I see this hill. The berries long gone here now.

Once we watched a rattlesnake slither by us. I remember my Dad saying, you really handled that well. It changed the peace I was feeling whether I acted like it or not.

I was done for the day.

I recall picking berries in Wisconsin while staying on a sweet farm. I picked them up the hill while the B&B owner prepared our dinner. They were different from ours, hollow in the center.

I walked down the aisle with chigger bites on my ankles from blackberry picking. Those are good memories.

Our land has blackberries so I’ve been picking these by myself for the last 3 or 4 years. Kevin keeps the paths near them mowed for me. The deer beat me last year and cleaned us out. But this year I’ve been checking them regularly. beauty

This week, after dinner a shower had cooled us off and I sprayed down with off and headed out with my bucket. I stepped into the patches and enjoyed the sights of nature close up. The sounds of deer deep in the woods, birds singing out to one another and Kevin’s mower in the distance. I never feel alone while picking. It’s so peaceful.  I’m always looking for a turtle or bird’s nest, a neat bug or a mushroom growing. Or even a snake. I know they are there.

A momma bird rustled and tweeted from a nearby tree so I thought I must be close to a nest and sure enough. I looked to see if there was wool from my wool ball and that perhaps it was the titmouse but no. nestnestwaitinglightening bug


I love what you notice while picking berries. bad hair dayIMG_0584raindrops

I walked along picking here and there. They are not quite in full so I never settled in one spot for long. I ate a few and thought about how Dad and I would nickname the different types of berries we would find. There is such a variety in their design, shape and flavors.

I love to close my eyes after picking and I see berries. Red and black. berry goodness

The greatest of gifts is that of blackberries and so I find great happiness in picking enough for a cobbler or better yet jam. 1berries

I hope you find a patch to pull over and pick from, even if it’s only enough for a small bowl with milk and sugar. The simplest of summer joys.





22 thoughts on “Blackberry Summer

  1. I enjoyed your pictures & your journey down memory lane. Sparked a journey of my own, too. Both you & your mom have me longing for a bowl of berries! (On my shopping list. They were out my last trip)

  2. The largest berries are always just out of arms length and your have to push through if you every going to reach them. But be careful and not drop them on your way out. Love those memories. Thanks, Katey-Roo

  3. I feel like I was right there picking with you and it sounded glorious. I did have a shortcake last night with various berries, black included, at a restaurant over looking the Columbia River.

  4. You brought the warm day and even the chiggers right inside my house with this wonderful story! Not to mention the pleather of berries. Where we live here on the West Coast was once all berry bushes and they spring up everywhere; I’ve got a huge patch on the wild side of the house and I can watch the birds feast, and the deer eat the pink blossom they can reach all from my studio window. I can get enough for my mush; I once made a pie. But learned it has to be eaten by the end of the day. We’ve got a drought here now; but there seem to be as many berries as always. My friend puts on thick leather gloves and makes a wreath of them.
    Because here those stickers can rip right through the thickest apron. And you just better have your arms well covered too.))

    • I bet the wreath is beautiful! Our neighbors growing up made wreaths with vines during the winter and turned out they were poison ivy vines!! Sad story! They had to go to the hospital it was so bad. Bless them.
      I would love to see the critters enjoying the berries. My dog clears them out too so I have to pick with out him. Poor guy. Enjoy your berries! Thanks for sharing your story. Katey

  5. Katey, your blog entries are always beautiful, sometimes funny, and often, both! Your memories of blackberry picking are so real it makes my ankles itch! What fun to read about your blackberry picking expedition, then to sit back and enjoy the beauties out of your dad’s garden patch–and I’m not even sunburned or sweaty! The best of both worlds!

    • That is the best of both worlds! Mom picked me beans and I got to snap them Sunday afternoon after being in Baja and it was awesome. katey

  6. that was a delightful read! and is a delightful memory for all of us. altho i admit, i didn’t take to it quite like ya’ll did. but i sure enjoyed the fruits of your labor! thank you for writing this to remind us all that it IS the simple blessings in life that are the best!! love you sweetie.

  7. Wish I could have taken that berry picking trip with you and a bucket. Use to pick them in back of our place. One year found such a wonderful place almost in my back door, picked about 12 gallons that summer! Would take my grandchildren with me and they loved it too! I always put Avons Skin So Soft on us, then dust our cloths with seven I had put in an old sock! Come home, set the buckets down and took a hot shower, then we washed and made jam! Never got those pesty southern chiggers! Ahhh, the memories you are making for your one day grand children! Love you and your beautiful pictures!

    • My dad bought his tame berries from Mississippi State I think. They are so healthy and beautiful. He has had the best of luck with them. Thank you for your sweet comments. Katey

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