Call me crazy, fighting with all those thorny brambles, but I love picking blackberries. Recently, on days when I’ve really had to fight the system, having to put lots of energy in but getting nothing out; I found some kind of sadistic pleasure fighting the brambles, knowing that at least I’d get something out of that system. It’s rewarding to come back with a billy full of first class berry goodness.
But it’s not just that. I like the excuse to get outside, to hear the birds chirping as I whittle away at the brambles, choosing the berries not just by colour, but also by feel. Picking the ones that are plump and moist; knowing so because they have just a little give when you touch them.
Blackberries make beautiful fruit when they grow near a water source. If you want to be thorough, you can get quite muddy and pick a load of the plumpest blackberries imaginable. But if you just like the sound of running water, you can meander around, picking those from the edges.
I find it easiest to pick blackberries from spots along a fence line, they don’t grow too deep and they’re tall enough for you to not need to lean over all the time.
I am even lucky enough to have a blackberry friend who grows up in a hawthorn tree, so I needn’t even bend over for the picking.
I have a hat I wear when I go blackberrying. It’s an old, beaten up felt hat that belonged to my Grandpa. I love it. I was all set when I inherited his fabulous gumboots. I find it a little extraordinary that we took exactly the same size shoe. I tuck my pants into my boots and go out into the world, armed with an old cardboard box to use as a shield, preventing the brambles from catching on my pants or shirt as I learn into their depths. I take Nan and Pop’s billy with me. I guess it’s medium sized, with an old cord around the handle from which to hang it around your neck. I am content when I fill that billy. I know it’s time to go home then. But I am somehow just not satisfied if I can’t fill it. A few days ago I was stoked to fill the billy twice in one day; picking in several spots not a hundred metres from the house.
Nan has a blackberry growing over her driveway fence. When I first arrived, Pop wanted to spray it, but I begged him to wait till I’d picked its fruit. The other day Nan and I were sitting by the driveway for her garage sale. I was admiring the ripening blackberries growing on a curvaceous branch when she said aloud, “look at those blackberries!” I barely had a chance to say yes, before she was saying how ugly they were. I told her “beauty must surely be in the eye of the beholder, for I’ve taken quite a fancy to them”.
I love picking blackberries.