Monday, June 10, 2013

summer blackberries

Someone and I played golf yesterday. It was a good day for playing because it was overcast. The course was mostly deserted which is the way I like it – no waiting, at least not much waiting. The rain held off until we were finishing the last hole. While I was waiting to tee off on #12, I saw these loaded blackberry bushes and snapped a photo.  They will be ripe in another month.


When I was a girl and it was blackberry season, my grandmother would give my brothers and me large buckets and send us off with orders not to come back until our buckets were full. I hated picking blackberries. It was hot, I always got scratched up in the briars, the mosquitoes buzzed around my face, and I always worried about wildlife (i.e. snakes, spiders, bees, and ticks). The humidity was horrendous that time of summer. It took hours to pick a bucket of blackberries, and my older brother and I always had to help our younger brother get enough berries for his bucket…that’s another long story.

We’d start off early in the morning. Those big striped, hairy garden spiders would oftentimes be sitting in their webs so we could see and avoid them. Sometimes, I’d just walk into an invisible web and then I’d have to worry if a spider was attached and now crawling in my hair or on my clothes. We made enough noise that only the most sluggish of snakes didn't slither away, but my little brother loved catching them and putting them in his bucket. I’ve never liked snakes and never had any thoughts of intentionally touching one. He caught them and enjoyed how they coiled around his arm and hands. EWWW….it gives me creeps just thinking about it.

After a long day of blackberry picking, my grandmother made us all take baths with lye soap, and she picked through our hair to get the ticks out. She thought lye soap was more effective against poison ivy than regular soap. Maybe it was, but I always had poison ivy in the summers. Maybe it would have been much worse if there were no lye soap.  The lye made my scratches burn. 

My grandmother always gave us a bath in a metal washtub on the back porch. She filled up the tub with water boiled on the stove. The air was hot, the water was hot, and she was usually cranky at bath time. I can’t say taking a bath was refreshing in any stretch of the imagination. Getting a bath was serious business in those days, no playing around. The washtub was like a war zone – get in, get it done, get out. Those were not "good old days"….nope, I don’t miss them at all.

My girls loved taking baths when they were young, and I usually saw bath time as an opportune time for me to read.  All my little girls could be happy for at least an hour playing in a bubble bath.  I’d stay in the bathroom to supervise and make sure there were no accidents, but it was prime reading time for me.

My great-grandmother, grandmother, and great aunts made blackberry jelly with the blackberries we picked.  That was always a good day to stay away from the kitchen.  The house had no air-conditioning and the kitchen was miserably hot when they were busy boiling jars and making jelly.  The old ladies were hot and cranky too.

great-grandparents, grandmother, and great aunts


Sarah said...

I love their dresses!!

KYLady said...

My great grandparents are celebrating a big anniversary in this photo...maybe 60th. Great grandmother was 15 years old when she got married. They are dressed in their good clothes for the party. You like the dresses and I like the pinecone wallpaper (as long as it isn't in my house).