Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A BLACKBERRY: Am I an old hand here or what?

In the plentiful world of today's America it is hard to seriously think of people not having food. In the great depression of the 30's it was a daily reality. Thanks to my Mother, bless her dear memory, we always had food. But, it didn't just happen. It was a constant, day-by-day, effort. What would we eat today, tomorrow or "when the snow flies". That was what she would say everytime we wanted to eat the freshly made jams and jellies. "Wait til the snow flies".

Kimberly's Masters Thesis was "My Grandmother, the Wisest Woman I Ever Knew". Mom did not have much of a formal education but she knew everything she needed to know to feed her family and provide a good life. The stories abound of Mom's, at times unusual, ways of taking care of her charge. One certain way, however, was picking wild blackberries. When blackberries were ripe, and as long as they were ripe, our hands were stained purple-black from berries.

Only when I was an adult did it occur to me that all I did was help pick the berries. We each picked 2 three gallon buckets and the picking pail by noon. Then came the agony as a child, of wrapping rags around our hands, and carrying those buckets home. Once we got home we kids all headed for the river to hopefully wash away the chiggers.

Mom stayed home and, over an old hot, iron cook stove, if she had sugar, made jellies and jams, and if not then she would just can the berries without sugar. But if there was sugar to be had at all, we could depend upon having a supper of blackberry cobbler. We would eat it day-after-day, a treat I still love. Then it was Mom who got up early the next morning and had the biscuits and gravy ready so we could eat and be in the cool berry field, wet with dew, when the sun came up.

There is a real skill to picking berries off of the briar covered vines, around thorny crab apple thickets, always sniffing the brush for the cucumber smell of a copperhead. Mom had the touch. Of all the kids, it was a source of intense pride that I was the only one that had her "touch". I could pick berries. I could find those big, shade berries that filled the picking bucket fast. I still can. I have so many memories of paw paws, snakes, groundhogs, and all other situations that made each day a different memory. Good memories but painful.

Well, today my wife, Julie, is the Blackberry picker. In her wildest dreams Mother could not have imagined such a blackberry. Julie picked me a spanking new Blackberry Curve cell phone that does everything but tuck me in at night. Mark said it is much more technical than my present cell phone. Maybe it will even tuck me in? I'll find out on my cross country trike trip.

The phone won't come for about 3 days but it is on the way. Once it gets here Mark will tutor me in not only using the phone but also on taking pictures, emailing the pictures and blogging while I'm on the road. The GPS feature will even help me when I get lost. I will get lost! I said I was a picker. I hope this blackberry won't be too difficult for me to get into the picking pail. There is so much more to a cross country bike trip than just spinning the pedals. Plan and execute!

I Corinthians 9:26 - "I do not run like a man running aimlessly".

May you always find your way home and, in the end, be rewarded with a treat that is as sweet as Mom's cobbler.

God Bless!

2 comments:

Phatmom said...

Walt,

I enjoyed your reminiscing about going berry pickin'.

I never really went blackberry pickin', but my parents did. I love blackberries, especially in cobbler. I have a quart in the pantry that I am saving for hard times. I'll open them in the winter and perhaps make some dumplings. Yum!

Let me know how you like that Blackberry phone. I can't decide on it. I don't really need it, but I love gadgets! I do text message quite a bit to a couple of friends. Also love to take pictures with my phone. You'll be taking tons of pictures during your trip, I'm sure and posting them. I look forward to that!

God Bless,
Cheryl

Mark said...

Woo Hoo!!! You ordered your Blackberry!!!! I hope you like it as much as I like mine! Mark