The Vicious Berry

I’m finding it hard to type.

There’s a thorn lodged between the flesh and the nail on the outside edge of my little finger. I tried to get it out, but it’s too tender for me to continue annoying it.

I’ve also go a thorn lodged in the tip of my index finger, a tender spot at the tip of my tall finger where it is normally protected by the nail, I’ve remnants of several other thorns in the tips of all my fingers and the inside of my thumb, and there is evidence of where thorns have attacked me all over the back of my hand and the knuckles of my fingers.

And that’s just my right hand. My left hand in another story altogether.  Not one thorn, not one mark.  Not one section of broken, swollen, sore, or sensitive skin.

It just goes to show that I’m right-handed and that thorny blackberry bushes are cruel, cruel things.

Every part of the bush has thorns.  The stems, the underside of the leaves, the edges of the leaves, the branches, the storks of the branches where the berries grow, the little leaves that have opened to allow the berry to bloom.  They are everywhere and they have one job and one job only – to stop anyone trying to pick the fruit of their labour.

But I have to ask, what price would you pay for a bowl of blackberries?  A full bowl of sweet, plump, juicy, wild blackberries simply bursting with flavour?

Would you pick them?  Would you risk the bush grabbing your clothing, preventing you from stepping aside?  Would you risk reaching out to pick a berry only to have your finger jabbed with a razor sharp pointy, needle like growth?  I would, and I will do it again.  At $44 per kilogram (2.2 pounds), I’ve every intention of picking as many blackberries as I can.

I had no idea though that the blackberry bush was so vicious.  In fact, I think it was called forth to surround the castle where Sleep Beauty lay because nobody, and I mean nobody, gets past the blackberry bush.  Perhaps they should grow them on the fences around penitentiaries.  I’m sure the inmates would gladly stay put.

I declared it would really hurt if you fell into the bush.  Dean laughed and bumped me as he walked past.  I nearly had a coronary right there and then.  My blood ran like ice through my veins and every hair stood on end.  Dean just laughed harder.  He knew he hadn’t bumped me hard enough to lose my balance, but that didn’t ease my feeling of panic and sheer terror.  The bush is taller than me.  It’s been there for a long time.  Some of the branches are thick and woody with thorns hypodermic in stature.

Then Dean said, “If you fall in, I’ll have to call SES to get you out!”

That only made things worse causing me to dream that I did fall in and then Dean just walked away, slowly moseying back to the house to get his phone to make the call.  All the while, I’m lying in a murderous bush of thorns and prickles, a tear rolling down my cheek, wondering why he didn’t flag down a passing car.  Why?  Because he was laughing so hard.  I’m normally the brunt of his jokes, but being so in my own dream really does take things too far.

Blackberry

A branch full of berries

I wanted to laugh when Dean said he’d have to call the SES, but the thought of the State Emergency Services coming to cut me free of those vicious thorns only increased my terror. How long would it take them to arrive? How much pain would I suffer waiting for them? If they arrived in a helicopter, would the down draft only increase my pain?

What if the SES volunteers are unable to help me because they can’t stop laughing?

One thing is for sure, even though I’ll continue to harvest the berries, I will do so very carefully.

Blackberry 2

A berry ripe for the picking


My first effort at using the berries turned out pretty awesome and may not be my last effort either.  I’m thinking Blackberry Crumble, Blackberry Compote, Blackberry Muffins.  Mmmm muffins!

I typed up the recipe I came up with – see Wild Blackberry Jam on the Recipe page – and although the quantity of blackberry is a little vague, the end result is wonderful.  Over the last two days we’ve had jam on toast, jam on hot cross bun and jam with yoghurt.

Dean says it’s the blood, sweat and tears – and just a little bit of fear – that makes the jam so good.

What more can I say?

8 Comments

  1. Thorny problem. suggest wearing of body armor next time you venture outside.
    With all that parmigiana you should now be called ‘Sir Lunchalot’ send us a photo in full armor & regalia.

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  2. When we make our nearly annual trip to Oregon in late summer or early fall, I always pick wild blackberries at the Valley of the Rogue State Campground. The bushes are enormous, exactly like Sleeping Beauty’s walls! I understand the dilemma over pain vs pleasure. I try to stick to picking the berries easily reachable from the outside and leave the harder to reach ones for the birds. I bought blackberries at the market yesterday and will enjoy them on waffles for breakfast this morning. Mmmm.

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    1. Hi Lorie,

      When I go into town today, I’m going to shout myself a (cheap) pair of gardening gloves.

      The season has almost finished here and the berries are just too sweet, I can’t help myself, I just have to pick them. Stayed tuned to find out what I do with the next batch.

      Clare

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  3. Upon the mountain where I live, I am surrounded by blackberry bushes. They grow thickly all along the edges of the woods. And yes, they are prickly beyond belief. My hound, has learned how to delicately maneuver his snout and cast out his tongue to latch onto only the ripest and juiciest clusters. I grew tired of him having all luck and joy, so three and one-half years ago I planted a Navaho variety – THORNLESS! As new plantings are sour for at least the first two or three years, this year is sure to be a gangbuster of a summer. They are fat, juicy, and enough for the birds, the deer and me. (and the hound).
    Beautiful pictures, Clare. And now I have this unbearable craving for jam.
    Cheers!

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    1. Hey Shelley,

      I so want to be able to wander through a forest with a hound at my heels, but that dream will have to wait awhile. I AM going to plant thornless blackberries when Dean and I decide where we want to live next. The jam was/is awesome. I only hope I can pick enough for another batch before the season is over. Winter is closing in fast and the berries are thinning out, but, thorns and sore fingers aside, they are the sweetest, juiciest little things. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten them before – how sad it that?

      Clare

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  4. Hi Clare
    We picked blackberries when we were in Tassie some years ago near Latrobe. Made Jam and had stewed blackberries. Used a plank of wood balanced on the hammer to weigh the sugar and blackberries. Enjoying your blog..

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    1. Thanx Anne,

      Always lovely to hear that someone enjoys reading my little blog and the meandering thoughts I post. It’s a lovely day here today after two days of rain. I’m heading out to attack that bush again, or maybe I’ll just provide it with another opportunity to attack me.

      Clare

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