After a month off of all possible duties, except the care of my children, I am back on the scene and happy to be here. The lushness of Arkansas greeted me with 60% humidity and made the soles of my sandals come unglued. California, I love you…but…you’re so arid and everything is dead. Don’t be mad. We can still be friends. I love you.
Paul was more than eager to hand over some chore duty when the kids and I arrived. I think that was the first thing he said to me in the airport. Not ‘Hi, how are you? I’ve missed you. I love you!’ No, I think it was ‘Have I got a list for you!’. And of course, after sitting at my Mom’s kitchen table and reading the newspaper all month I was ready to sweat and be active.
My first task was picking blackberries. Now, when I left the blackberries were almost ripe, so the ones left on the brambles were the second and third coming, so as you could have guessed small and only here and there. Now I was to pick blackberries for the “Blackberry Festival” which had been an annual tradition on this farm through time and memorial and was/is making a come back. I had to get suited up in long sleeves, overalls, hat and leather gloves, because blackberries know what kind of gems they possess and have developed a keen way of protecting them. Only the strong survive when it comes to blackberry picking. So I’m picking and sweating like crazy and getting poked like crazy and hearing the earsplitting whine of mosquitos buzzing around my head…like crazy and for a few lousy berries here and there. Not worth it, but I soldiered on. I eventually picked a gallon, and my fingers show the price of poker, nicked and cut. The berries were used to make smoothies for the party, which everyone enjoyed because it was soooooo hot outside and the smoothies were soooooo cold and delicious.
I’ve picked tomatoes as well, not too exciting, canned them up, sold some to Harp’s (grocery store on the corner) and eaten some.
I have just finished picking raspberries. These delights were a lot easier to pick than the blackberries. They too have thorns, but give the plant another thousand years and maybe it will figure out the proper defense against greedy little fingers like mine. They were so ripe they just fell off as my fingers touched them. Occasionally I would hear a “tishhhh” sound, as a berry would fall from my fingers and hit the tall grass, never to be seen again. Then I would make a “pishhhhh” sound because I knew there went another perfect bite, slipping through my fingers like it meant nothing to me. Like the character Gollum guarding his “precious” in The Lord of the Rings, as was I in the raspberry patch. I picked about another gallon, maybe more of raspberries. We are planning on canning, (say that three times fast), again today. More JAM!