It's blackberry winter here.
No that has nothing to do with the super-phone thing that was almost shut down in a lawsuit last month.
In the South, summer starts sometime mid-April. I hate the heat. I love the South. Don't get me wrong. But I hate the heat. It was 95 last week. But today the high was 73. Now, that is by no means "winter." But it much more comfortable than what it was last week and will be over the next 5 months.
This cooler weather is always called blackberry winter.
The blackberry brambles always start to bloom about this time, and it seems to coincide with a "cold snap." (for those of you unfamiliar with the term "cold snap": a period of a few days where the temperature is cooler than normal. This term is used most often at the beginning of cold weather in late fall or early winter.)
Now, about picking blackberries. Not "harvesting". You don't harvest them. Harvesting implies gathering a large quantity of fruit with little effort. No sirree. Blackberries must be picked a small handful at a time. The vines are full of thorns. The leaves are prickly too. You should wear long sleeve shirts, or you'll itch for hours. Long jeans and boots are also ideal choices. Jeans to protect your legs from the thorns. Boots to help you tromp through the vines and give you a sense of protection from the snakes.
Yes, snakes. This is the time of year when snakes in the South begin to explore again. The winters here are not cold enough down here for the snakes to truly hibernate. (Much like my laptop, they prefer to simply snooze or stand-by teehee.) I've always heard that rattlesnakes like blackberry brambles a lot. I have no proof that they are more commonly found there than any other kind of snake.
A tangent about snakes. And if you like snakes, you should skip this paragraph. The only non-poisonous snakes are the ones that have their heads removed by a long-handled hoe. (For you city-folk, that is a garden tool that has a long handle, traditionally wooden, with a short, straight blade designed for cutting the soil and snake-heads.) Another common snake weapon is the shotgun or pistol. Having never killed a snake myself, I imagine that killing one with a hoe would be easier than trying to shoot at it. Regardless of how good your aim is at the target range, I suspect that when faced with a killer snake that your hand might tremble just a LITTLE, again they're ALL POISONOUS while their head is attached.
The long pants should be tucked into the boots. This, plus the long sleeve shirt, helps prevent the chigger bites. Chiggers. Yes, chiggers. This is not an insult against any person of any race in any way. Chiggers are tiny, little red bugs that crawl on your body until they find a nice, tender, sweaty spot. Once their valhalla is discovered, they begin their burrowing and chewing and IgE-triggering behaviors. My experiences with chiggers have seemed to always been with them biting me in a very tender (backs of knees) or embarassing spot (upper thigh, or the behind.)
There are many home remedies for chiggers. DH's favorite story is of when he was a kid at his Granny's and had played in the grass all day. At bath time, Granny rubbed him down with bleach to kill the chiggers. Well, this works very well, but some of his bites had already made him scratch, slightly breaking the skin. ( The bleach has a stinging affect when it comes into contact with sensitive skin or open cuts.) He ran through Granny's house, buck-naked, screaming.
One more thing about chiggers... In LA (refer to previous post "Tea."), chiggers are called redbugs. I prefer the name chiggers. It has "attitude" that I think suits the little pest.
Yet another contribution to the education of all the non-Southerners that are lacking in the proper know-how and walking-around necessary to plow a straight row. You're very welcome.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
It's blackberry winter here.