Prickly picking had mouthwatering reward.
Illustration by Michele Tremaine
Illustrations by Michele Tremaine
It’s hot. The dusty grass tickles my legs as I follow my father up the hillside. Bugs buzz in the air. The old metal peanut butter cans clink against our legs as we climb.
I hate the heat and the sun and the dust. I hate the bugs. I especially hate the briars that scratch my arms and legs. But I like blackberries, so I follow my father.
We find a generous patch of bushes and greedily start picking. Some berries aren’t quite ready; others are so ripe and heavy they drop into our hands as soon as we touch them. We have to put them in our peanut butter can buckets gently so they don’t get smushed. The bees aren’t happy with us taking the sweetness away, and they buzz around my head. Dad tells me to just keep picking.
Our buckets are soon filled to the brim. We start down the hill, trying to keep our feet on the ground and the prize in our pails. I slip and grab onto a sapling for support. A few berries tumble out of my bucket and get lost in the weeds. I’m glad when I see my grandmother’s front porch.
We come in through the screen door to the coolness of the house and show my mom and grandma the many fruits of our labor. “There’s lots more up there,” Dad says, already heading for the door. “Come on, let’s go.”
I’m hot and itchy from the grass and the scratches and the bugs. “I don’t wanna go,” I tell him.
“Come on!” he urges. I’d much rather stay and talk with Grandma, and maybe sneak one of her sugar cookies from the stoneware jar on the counter and some lemonade from the icebox.
“No,” I whine.
I’m relieved when Dad says he’ll just go by himself.
Mom, Grandma and I carefully shake some berries out onto white paper plates and begin looking them over. Most are good, but sometimes we find a half-eaten one. Once in a while a little gray-brown spider walks across the paper plate. I’m not squeamish about squishing it, as long as I have a paper towel.