The tradition of blackberry picking runs strong in the Mullet family. I have many memories of heading to the back forty on what always felt like the hottest day of summer, bundled in denim from head to toe in an effort to establish some sort of feeble protection from the flesh-eating bushes. Somehow, Mom always managed to win the fashion show, although I do remember Aunts Ida and Mary Jane coming around in some doozys themselves.
I’d whine and complain about the heat and the prickers, or tattle on Annie, claiming that she made me reach for that big bush that was too far away and in my lunge I spilled my bucket of berries. I’d beg to be allowed to go back to the house. One time, I tried the “I have to go to the bathroom” excuse. Never again. Mom escorted me to a nearby secluded spot, and I was paranoid that a pricker bush would find my bare skin.
But I mostly remember loving it. Rambling deeper into the briars to find another section of blackberry heaven. There was something almost magical about finding such morsals of happiness (as Gruffy Bear might say) in the wild.
My dad still comes home late most nights while the berries are in season. Along with his nearly antique lunch pail and Stanley coffee thermos, he carries containers filled with berries in from the van. He knows all the hot spots in the wealthy enlotments where he works. It’s a wonder no one has called the cops on him yet. 🙂
Today is arguably the hottest day of Summer 2010. But guess what I just did? Yup. The berries back in the woods were calling my name. I donned the thickest pair of pants that I own, and found mom’s xxl long-sleeved denim shirt. I was sweating before I left the house. But I didn’t mind.
O the blackberries. They were beauties. A thunderstorm threatened overhead, but I ignored it. I had to get a bit farther in the bushes. I kept seeing another cluster of berries that I needed. When the rain was coming down in sheets, I decided that I probably should call it quits. I ran to the house, dripping wet, oversided shirt flapping in the wind behind me, half-filled bucket of berries swinging beside me, and I felt happy. And young.
And very much like a Mullet.