Another Thorny Issue

by Curt Kovener 

It was a usual hot Hoosier Sunday with humidity so heavy that it made breathing a chore and your body strain to sweat. I was pretty well caught up on my work and looked forward to a bit of an afternoon off.

Then divine intervention must have occurred. “You better check on the blackberries” a voice whispered to me.

Wild blackberries are a timely crop-you gotta pick them when they are at their firmest and blackest lest the raccoons, possums and birds eat your cobbler. I changed into old clothes and trekked to the Back 40.

It’s not 40 acres, I just call it that. It sounds better than the Back 9 which is too much like a golf term. But the berries on Back 40, which had received more than ample moisture following a couple of June gulley washers, were still various shades of unripe: green, white and red.

So I trekked over a couple of ridges to the Front 40…again, a misnomer as it is about 7 acres. But this area hadn’t been mowed for a couple of years and the weeds and wildflowers were lush and more than waist high.

But soon I was finding large berries by the cane-full. The weeds had over shadowed the berry heavy canes so I had to lift the thorny thumb-thick blackberry canes from their weedy hiding place. I was rewarded with over 7-foot canes of all ripened fruit and it took me little time to fill my nearly gallon berry bucket.

My bucket is a re-purposed metal 5 lb. coffee can (Does coffee even come in metal cans anymore? All I see are cardboard, plastic and vacuum packed bags) with a scrap piece of 12 gauge Romex electric wire for a bail to affix the berry bucket to my belt. This allows for two handed picking and is a quicker way to get in out of the Hoosier heat & humidity.

After I got a shower, I showered off the bucketful berry crop, placed them in a plastic bag, and gently placed them in the freezer.

After a couple more days of ripening, I will replay the crop harvest a few more times to get 3-4 gallons. Not for cobblers or pies this fall, but sweet blackberry wine.