Sometimes in late spring or early summer blackberries begin to ripen in South Ga. When I was growing up my family felt they had to get there share. They grew wild everywhere. At first we would pick from the blackberry bushes right around the house, along the garden fence, and behind the barn. We could get enough for a pie easily.
Granny was always close by cautioning us about snakes and at some point she would get serious about the blackberry business. She and I would ramble all over the country side, dressed and armed for the occasion. I in a pair of overalls my cousin had handed down. She in her sun bonnet and long sleeved dress that reached her ankles.
Besides the buckets she carried a hoe and I carried a long sturdy stick. This I used to poke around in the bushes good before I got close enough to pick the berries. If I heard something that sounded like dried peas rattling in the pod I was to run to her, she would kill with her hoe (the snake I mean). I was to remember that unlike rattlesnakes, moccasins didn’t give a warning, they just struck.
As we picked she would tell me horror stories about people that had been bitten by a poisonous snake and what had been done for it. The one I remember most vividly was someone had been bitten on the leg and a hole was dug and he sat with his leg buried in the hole. The soil drew the poison out. If a snake bit me I just hope it wouldn’t be on my face.
If we had more than we could carry with two hands we would thread them on the pole. Granny took one end and I the other. When we arrived home, Mama and Granny set to work. Canning and making jam and jelly. Sometimes, but not often, the jelly didn’t jell properly and they would have to cook it over. If it still did not work it was considered a loss. Until Dad, one day pored some oh his plate and decided he liked blackberry syrup better than the jelly.
Once when I had the occasion to eat breakfast at IHOP to my surprised blackberry syrup was on the menu. I had some and it was good, but I wondered if it had started out to be jelly and didn’t quiet make it.
By the way, on these blackberry adventures we never ran into a poisonous snake. Maybe they heard us coming and hid, or we just didn’t see them.