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Picking Berries

Picking Berries
By Joe Phillips Dear Me
Picking Berries
By Joe Phillips Dear Me

What’s up with

you? I admit to looking like a wounded mess, but as I write this, the blackberry canes are loaded with berries. It would be a shame to lose my share to the birds, deer and bear.

A few scratches is a small price to pay. The Kansas Woman was revolted because my arms were scratched up and oozing. Long sleeved shirts just get caught on the thorns shaking more berries to the ground.

Rubber boots and bib overalls make up the most useful attire. A plastic bucket hangs from the overall strap. I pick into the plastic bucket and transfer berries into a larger container.

Getting tangled up in vines and losing the grip on a bucket of berries taught me to avoid the bitter loss of picking for a couple hours only to lose the berries in a big spill.

My only tool is a four foot pole to reach tall canes and bring them closer. I think snakes have poor hearing but can sense vibrations in the ground: That’s what I’ve been told. Pounding the ground with the pole seems to work because I’ve never met a snake while berry picking.

My family on both sides were avaricious about gathering natural foods. They picked and canned dewberries, blackberries and grapes after they enjoyed cobblers. They enjoyed pawpaws and maypops. They had peach and apple trees and dehydrated fruit on sheets of tin.

There is no memory of my grandparents using insect repellent, but I recall them dousing themselves with kerosene.

Following their “old way,” I generously splashed myself and, after a two hour sojourn into the berry patch, I was chigger and tick free. I smelled awful but it worked.

In North Georgia berries are ripe around the middle of July, but here they continued from page

are ready sooner. In August the kudzu vine blooms and kudzu jelly is made from those blooms. Elderberries should be ripe soon.

In September wild grapes will be ripe and ready to pick. Muscadines are various shades of dark and have richer flavor than the greenish golden colored grape we called scuppernongs or “bullises.”

Folks like free stuff, but they pass on the free wild berries. The dark sweet makings of a cobbler are growing in the wild and folks either don’t care, don’t know what they are, or can’t cook.

Some avoid blackberries because the seeds are tiny and can find hiding places in your mouth.

My grandmother wore dentures and strained the berries for the juice. It was wonderful and she didn’t buy commercial pectin. All her preserves were made with the natural pectin from crabapples.

We now have an abundance of peaches and I’m sure to find a box of them to can for later. But first some peach ice cream.

There is a lot of natural food out there that is free.

Don’t forget your kerosene.

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