The Pursuit of Blackberries


This is the time of year in the Ozark Mountains for wild blackberries. They are in abundance on our homestead. They sparkle in the sunlight like little jewels hidden in the thicket. We have been picking berries in earnest this week because they do not last long and will soon be gone until next year. There is also competition for the berries. The deer, bears, birds, and other critters like them as well.

My favorite time for picking is early in the morning when the dew is still on the ground and the forest is alive with the sounds of birds. It is rather nostalgic for me.  I remember my childhood picking blackberries while vacationing with my parents at Aunt Charlotte’s in Washington state. For some reason, I do not remember any thorns from my youthful experience. The blackberries in the Pacific Northwest are much larger than the wild variety we have in the Ozark Mountains, but they taste just as good.

The thorns are the worst part of picking. They grab hold of your clothes like Velcro, prick your fingers and arms and draw blood. However, there are a few things that I have found useful as I prepare to go picking. I wear long pants to protect my legs from getting scratched.  This also helps reduce the attack of ticks and chiggers. I also like to wear a leather glove on my left hand. I can hold a berry branch with my gloved hand and pick berries with my right hand.

hornet's-nestLiving in the wilderness provides opportunities and experiences that money cannot buy. Like early one morning while picking berries, I was startled to find a hornet’s nest nestled in a berry bush. Can you see their nest in the picture? Needless to say the berries in the vicinity of the nest went unpicked. The following morning I saw a copperhead snake warming himself in the middle of the road (it was his last morning). It is not uncommon to find a small area of tall grass mashed down where a deer had spent the night. On another day, I saw a fawn bound from the thicket and it stood and watched me for a long while before going on his way. The thrill of discovery is beyond words, but nature provides these priceless experiences.

blackberry-jamWithin a few hours the pail is full with delicious berries and time to walk back up the hill.  Jaimie and Joann go to work making jam and we had a blackberry pie and cobbler for dessert nearly every day this week. We will also have canned blackberries well into the winter. We will no doubt be sitting around the wood stove eating hot blackberry cobbler and wishing we could have picked more.

It will not be long before we are out picking wild plums, grapes, persimmons and passion fruit.

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About Tim L

After their retirement, Tim and his wife Joann moved along with his daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons to the American Ozark Mountains to build an off-grid homestead.

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  1. Oh boy, it make my mouth water! We just planted some Blackberries this year hooping they do not mind our freezing cold winters. What a beauty you are surrounded with, thank you for sharing!

  2. Sounds like you got it down to a science! Lots of memories for me too. Summers at mamaw owsley’s in the appalachians walking along the railroad tracks. Though more often than not it was black raspberries. We even had our own snake adventure once…a cotton mouth trying to find a spot to have its babies! They ended up in mamaw’s coal stove. 🙂

  3. I always think of Blueberries For Sal when I read about berries – plink, plank, plunk. These look wonderful!

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