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She’s gone wild berry wild

Help. I can’t stop picking blackberries. It’s like I have blackberry radar or something, because I can be driving along, lost in the world of my mind, and suddenly I see them on the side of the road like a beacon.


 


I’ll say, “You see those blackberries?”


Mark will say, “What blackberries?”


The miniscule blackish morsels may be tiny and tucked obscurely underneath branches, but I see them, and I CAN’T ignore them.


So I will stop the car and gather a few in the bowl I keep in the back seat for just this purpose – or if we are in a hurry to go somewhere, I’ll return later to pick them on the sly. Can’t resist.


 


Yesterday, I went for a run. I haven’t gone running since before my residency, so I was a bit annoyed with the state of my path. I’ve picked up over six large trash bags filled with discarded cups and beer cans out there (If I ever get into heaven, it will be for environmental sainthood – sure won’t gain entry for anything else). And don’t ya know that in the two weeks I’ve been gone, the dirty, rotten, stink’in, lazy, slobbish, ignorant, jackass who throws waste out of his car window (I don’t like this guy, in case you haven’t noticed) has been up to his old habits. Apparently, he didn’t notice, or appreciate, the lovely clean road I’ve supplied him with for his drive home. Jerk.


 


Anyway,  I’m plodding along, thinking that I’m over being this guy’s outdoor maid. I’m gonna leave the trash where it is, because I’ll be moving in two months, and for all I care, the guy can drown in it . . . when I see a bush dripping with blackberries. I’m sort of glad I don’t have any vessel to put them in, because, frankly, we are overrun with blackberries, and my family is making fun of me over my enthusiasm now. The freezer is filled with one cup proportioned baggies of blackberries  – we have a huge vat of blackberry cobbler in the fridge and bowls of blackberries awaiting a fruit salad fate. I’ve given a few pints to my sister-in-law, and I’m forever looking for recipes to use the ones I keep dragging home. Finding good recipes for blackberries isn’t easy considering my husband announced this week that he really doesn’t like blackberries all that much (NOW he tell me?)


 


Anyway, back to my quest. I sigh as I look at those ripe, flavorful berries and jog on, but a few steps down the path and I see a big plastic 64-ounce subway cup on the road. Now, I figure picking it up would be good for the environment AND it would supply me with a vessel to collect a few more blackberries ( I can justify any passion, sad to say). So, I pick up the cup, backtrack and come home with more fruit.


 


I just can’t resist. They are free, fresh, and I like ’em. I told Mark I was worried I wouldn’t snap out of it. Maybe I’ll need electro shock therapy or something to kill the blackberry-picking obsession. He said the season would be over in about 5 weeks, so I’ll be saved. Till then, I’ll keep picking. Perhaps I should mention here that my giant blueberry bush is starting to turn. But blueberries are not as controversial as blackberries – they are more versatile when it comes to cooking, they have no thorns, and are sweeter by far . Picking them is a family affair, so I won’t feel so circumspect when I shift my focus to a new berry.  


 


At least, I am not the only person with this serious blackberry picking affectation. My sister came to visit for a few days and don’t ya know, she has it too. Must be genetic! The first day here she said, “Let’s pick some blackberries.” She didn’t know I’ve been at this for a week already. We spent a day on the land, picking away. She is quite an aggressive blackberry harvester. She got all scratched up, but she announced it was worth it to best me at the deed. That is debatable, of course. At one point, I noticed my kids in the car, resting and enjoying the air conditioning. Linda and I were out there slaving away at the bush, delighting in filling our bowls, smiling with blackberry-stained tongues. It’s obvious who the real kids in this family are.


 


The next morning,  Linda was out on the porch having a cigarette and she spies another bush. She dumps her coffee cup out and walks over in her PJ’s to pick more, gathering them in her cup, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth like Betty Davis. Yea – she has the dreaded blackberry obsession too.


 


We had a great time while she was here. We rode the horses and she gave me training advice (she is a far better rider than I, having spent years showing horses while I was dancing). We also went to the feed store to buy some supplies and came away with more baby chickens. She couldn’t resist – I couldn’t say no. I now have two tiny silkies (the chickens that grow low feathers on their bodies and feet that look like fur) and two bantams (miniature chickens) and four that have these huge tuffs of feathers on their head like they have an afro. They are all “fancy” chickens – not for eating or egg laying. They are for ambiance, don’t ya know.


 


The second day Linda was visiting, we called my brother Dave, who lives 1 ½ hour away. We invited him to dinner, but didn’t expect him to come. Sure enough, he came with his two sons to see my house and land (this is the first time my siblings have seen any of what we are creating here.) Strangely enough, then, my dad called. He was flying home to Florida from Cincinnati (where he went to play poker with some old buddies) and he missed his connecting flight out of Atlanta. So, since he was stuck, he rented a car and zipped over. Now, I had almost my entire family (sans Mom) together for this grand showing off of the new Hendryville. We explored the land with our four wheelers, and inspected the house. All were impressed and gushed lovely, generous compliments. My brother said, “Wow, this is more magnificent than my own plans for when I win the lottery.”  


Yes, well, many days if feels as if we won the lottery ourselves.


 


It was a nice weekend, although Mark had to work through much of it. He is drowning in labor with this house, trying to stay one-step ahead of the workers so he can put in all the special details he dreams up. My sister and I went to see how he was doing on the day we were riding, and he was covered head to toe in sawdust. Linda said, “Gee, your husband looks like a powered donut nowadays.” Ha. Perfect description.


 


Having a few days with my family was a joy. But it does put me behind in my homework, so today, I have to buckle down and get something done.  I’ve given myself one hour to blog, and time’s up. Sigh.


 


Before I go, I thought I should mention that I lost Kathy again. That happened after my last residency too – I came home to find her in jail. If we don’t have consistent meetings, she fades away, loses her focus. I went to the Appalacian college for our scheduled reading session on the Monday I got back from Lesley, but she didn’t show up. I figured it was the day before July 4 (and the college was closed) so perhaps it was just a matter of bad communication. But I haven’t heard from her since and her phone is disconnected. (This happens with her often, due to financial restraints.) I suppose she’ll call evenutally and we will get back on track. Anyway, it’s depressing. It’s hard to save the world when the world refuses to show up.


 


 


 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

13 responses »

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    You are a blackberry fiend!! And Mark’s right…the end of the season is the only thing that will save you! 🙂 I’m happy to hear that your family visited. I miss my family and wish they’d visit more often. So I commented on a couple other blogs of yours. I found this site a week or so ago and now I’m addicted…kind of like your blackberry addiction, I guess. This is my way of catching up with you guys. I love hearing about all your projects. I mentioned in another one of my comments that I’d love to come help Mark with landscaping some time. 🙂 That was one of my scholarship jobs way back when. Good memories.Well, take care. And keep bloggin’. It makes me feel like I’m part of your world again. Take care,Jaime Woodman Saunders

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