Black raspberry dreams

It is that time of year again.  Actually it is almost a month early, but the black raspberries have started to arrive and put all other activities on hold.   Yesterday I inspected my usual places and while some berries have not quite ripened yet, most others are well on the way.  In fact, I should have been out last week and checked more thoroughly.  The one place I kept tabs on unfortunately lagged behind most of the rest.

Black raspberry bounty

This year for the first time, I seem to be in competition with the birds. In the past, I didn’t find many that had been pecked at, much less eaten.  This time, I have found many clusters already fully consumed with the little white core all that is left. I know that my competition can’t be another person because of where the stalks are.  I think that with the mild winter and early spring, many fruits came out too soon and were caught in the frost and died.  Top it off with the subsequent drought in April and May and I think  it is possible that there is a lot less food out there for the wildlife and my berry picking has suffered as a consequence.  Drat and double drat.

Anyway, I spent 2 1/2 hours out picking this morning and got close to two quarts.  It was a lovely morning, temperatures in the 50’s-60’s and a light breeze.  Instead of having to get out at 7 am before the heat and humidity started to rise, I went out leisurely at 8:30 and picked until 11, barely breaking a sweat.  I found that the nicest and largest berries were deep in the shade where the drying sun couldn’t reach them.  The best were also intertwined with the rose bushes, to my skin’s everlasting sorrow.  While the raspberry bushes have prickers, nothing can quite compare to the ripping quality of rose bush thorns, even through long pants and long sleeves.  They also excel at grabbing hats and hair.  I would have normally gotten over a gallon in my first picking session, but I will have to be satisfied with what I have.  The wildlife evidently needs a whole lot more this year.  I will be picking again on Friday or Saturday.  Wish me luck.

Berries, bucks and me

When I pick berries it is not in the carefully laid out rows of a commercial operation. It is out on the edges of our fields and rife with the potential for difficulty and excitement.  There are wild rose bushes to grab skin, hair and clothes and while the blackberry bushes are not quite as lethal, they are not much better.  Then there are the chiggers.  For anyone who does not know, these little mites will drive you to distraction with a red bump and serious itching that lasts for days.  I’ve never seen a snake, but I’m sure I came close a time or two and didn’t know it.

The rapidly approaching blackberry season and the appearance of the first fawn in the yard put me in mind of an adventure my Great Pyrenees mix and I shared some years ago at our last home.  Like here, it had large fields surrounded by black raspberry and blackberry bushes where I was able to pick gallons and gallons of freshly ripened fruit.   She loved to accompany me on my meanderings around the fields, relaxing in the shade when I found a patch to pick.  We  were lazily moving  down the edge of the woods to a little outcrop that was mostly berry bushes and a few smaller scrubby trees.   We had been out about an hour, me juggling three buckets half filled with fruit and her following. 

Suddenly, directly in front of me, a large buck with a huge rack leapt out of the underbrush.  Leaves, branches and who knows what else went flying though the air in all directions as he crashed out of his supposedly hidden bedding spot.  We must have jumped about three feet into the air.  Brandy was so surprised she didn’t make a sound – not even a woof.  We looked on in startled silence as the huge buck bounded away, his sleep rudely disturbed and with vines and underbrush hanging from his large rack.  It was quite a sight.   Brandy looked back at me as if to say What Just Happened?  All I could say was Wow!  After we caught our breaths and our hearts started to beat again, we continued on with the picking, once again treated to the wonders of nature all around us.

Resting does

I’m taking a short break from the art experiments right now for a very good reason.  I just started on a commission home portrait of a cute town home that will take me into the weekend or thereabouts.  I’ll post it when I’m done.