It feels like summer again; hot, humid, and sticky. It's blackberry season. Though I often prefer to venture off to pick berries alone, soaking in the sunny solitude, this afternoon I decided to take three little girls along to the back edge of our property where the blackberry brambles grow thick and prickly.
Each small girl carried a green berry box in which to gather the treasured fruit. Warned of the vine's vicious ways, they cautiously braved the thorny old hedgerow, plucking fat fruits and dropping them into their boxes. The littlest girl was started to find her hair tangled in a sharp toothed overhanging branch. "It pulled my hair!" she exclaimed.
As I sat on the back porch just a half hour earlier, plucking tiny elderberries from gigantic clusters, I had thought how mothers of days gone by would have given the job of elderberry plucking to rambunctious young children, and yet there I sat doing it myself. My mind wandered to the patch of wild canes full of dark, sweet blackberries rotting in the summer sun and I wondered how many of today's children will one day look back with fond memories of braving blackberry prickers. After all, how many children now wander far enough from a mother's watching eye to even find a patch of wild berries?
"Naughty! Naughty! Naughty!" she shouted into the brambles, and yet the smallest girl reached in again to pull a juicy fruit from the vine full of stickers. There were squeals of pain and laughter from the other two as they too discovered the joy of blackberry bushes and the sweet reward of fresh picked berries.