July 4 Was Berry Hot

by Curt Kovener            

I am not so sure I relish mid-week holidays like we had last Wednesday for July 4th. I enjoyed some time away from work but there just seemed to be so much more work than usual  to get done on Thursday and Friday.

But I made good use of the holiday. Independence Day usually kicks off the blackberry season. I can tell you the blackberry crop is about like the corn prospects: spotty and small yields.

But Charley and I dressed as lightly as thorns, deer flies and predicted 100° temperatures allowed. (Well, I dressed appropriately, Charley work his usual outfit.)

The first stop at the wilderness retreat was the dam where I could spot some ripe berries in amongst tall briars and sumac. Charley quickly caught on to what was going on and began his climb up the dam to eat his share. A couple of times his enthusiasm for getting his share nearly knocked me off my feet.

My next stop was in an area along the lower trail where berries are traditionally large and prolific. But that would not be this very dry year.

There are some blackberries in a thicket along the north edge of the woods and rather than drive there I opted to hike it up the lane then down a holler and across a creek (which was bone dry) to the thicket.

Charley followed me but kept getting distracted with the variety of woodland smells. Last I saw him was when I crossed the creek.

The berry picking was moderately better in the northern thicket, but with the rising temperatures I think I was picking berries that were already cobbler temperature. And they were clingy to the briar leaving me with well stained fingers. If you would have asked if I had found any blackberries, you would have literally caught me red-handed.

All in all, I harvested a little over a half-gallon of wild blackberries and opted to take the longer but less step lane back to the house. All along the way I whistled and called for Charley but he never showed.

When I was nearly back to the house I heard some movement on the rear deck. Out trotted Charley to greet me and it was obvious he had already been in the lake for a cooling swim. I almost decided to join him but found the lake was almost as warm as bath water. So I watered the flowers and veggies growing in pots then adjourned to the deck with a very chilled and generously poured adult beverage to cool down and contemplate the day’s events.

Charley stretched out and snoozed contemplating his own adventures.