Sunday, August 06, 2006

Wild blackberries

On the northwest edge of our little farm wild blackberries grow like crazy. More than we can eat and preserve, although Don keeps pushing us to give it a good farm try. This Saturday is "Farm Day," a reunion for my side of the family, so we're determined to harvest as many of these jewels as we can for topping ice cream.

I am daunted by them, I admit. Their thorny, arching canes love to grab skin and clothes. And, poison ivy often grows nearby.

But then, when you see that black fruit dangling, almost hidden by tangled grassy cover, something else grabs hold. You develop an expert delicate touch with fingertips tugging ripe berries off the stem. (Blackberries differ from raspberries in that the "receptacle" stays intact; raspberries are hollow, leaving the receptacle on the stem. Also, some blackberries are twice as big as raspberries.) It's tricky to pick them without being stuck with an invisible thorn from the stem. The challenge is intoxicating because the rewards are so delicious.

White flowers first turn into green berries, then red, then almost black (very dark purple actually), which are ripe for picking. Some of these red ones will be ripe by tomorrow. See the berry, below, that is half red, half purple?

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The Web site embedded in the post title tells of an English folktale I've never heard (and being just returned from Ireland, I'm intrigued by folktales). It tells of the day the devil fell from heaven, October 11, into a thorny blackberry bush. He avenges the day every year by spitting on (or peeing on, depending on the version) the blackberry bushes, making the berries inedible from that day on. No worries, for our blackberries are long gone by October 11.


Ginnie said...

When I got to the poison ivy part, I just about lost it, Ruth. UGH. I'm at almost 2 weeks now with this bout and will probably break down and go to the doctor tomorrow. It's no fun. It's the spreading part that drives me crazy.

BUT, if I were decked out in shoes and socks, jeans and long-sleeved t-shirt AND gloves, I might want to pick those luscious berries. What great pics to whet my appetite. Hopefully we'll enjoy many blackberries this next weekend! Oooo-la-la!

Ruth said...

Oh, Ginnie, how awful. I think you should just stay away from the blackberries, although there is a section of them Don assures me is poison ivy-free. Have you tried all sorts of remedies? Maybe the Doc has something magical to get rid of it fast. I know it's miserable.

Heather said...

Oy, I love the folktale. I hope the devil doesn't pee on 'em, though. :) I love blackberries.

Ruth said...

Heather, no problem because the blackberries will be long gone by Oct. 11. :)

Nancy said...

Oh I love these photos! So beautiful and so spring! <3

Ruth said...

You must be looking forward to spring in Auckland! But it doesn't get so cold there in the winter as here.

Rauf said...

Nancy says beautiful pictures, I say that too Ruth. One big advantage in living in a tropical country is we have a phenomenal variety of fruits, so many that still I keep discovering fruits I have never heard of.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Rauf. I think the fruit is beautiful, so the photos can't help but be. I would love being in a tropical place to see the fruits and vegies at the market. I get immense pleasure just looking at piles of supple produce: the colors, textures, shapes.