Blackberrying

Here in Australia, blackberries are a noxious weed. They grow in mountainous heaps (seriously – some tangles are enormous!) and spread uncontrollably, their sharp thorns making them completely unapproachable. Of course, this fact does not change how delicious their fruit is. Birds and humans alike are attracted to the sweet little criminals and thus we inadvertently help to spread their seeds.

So it is that each summer, where possible, many Canberrans head to the outlying pine forests (where escaped blackberries are rampant) and try to find a patch that doesn’t have the warning sign saying that they have been recently poisoned.

I suspect that this summer the activity is even more popular than usual. Last summer was so horrid with the drought and all the smoke that any blackberries would have been dry and hard as rocks and picking would have required a face-mask (for smoke, not COVID). This summer, by contrast, is wet and cool and the blackberries are juicy and enticing. Picking is also less uncomfortable than usual as the weather is so mild. One can don the necessary long sleeves and thick pants and boots and wade comfortably among the unfriendly vines without sweating litres.

Despite the thorns and the flies and the summer threat of snakes, there is something quite therapeutic about blackberry picking. In order to avoid being scratched one must move carefully and deliberately and progress can be slow – often only being able to pick one berry at a time. It’s so frustrating to rush and then drop a particularly sweet and soft one down into the well of thorns and know it is lost forever. So one accepts the slow fill of one’s bucket and works away in quiet concentration – imagining examples of the wonderful pies and jams to come.

Since our kids were born, I have often missed the blackberry picking as it’s not a particularly child friendly exercise. However, with the house being flooded and P trying to do his paid job as well as work on the house, and the kids being on holidays and not attracted to the messed up home they normally love, I barely saw P in January. When he decided that he must go blackberrying (he loves a good jam), I was loathe to stay at home with the kids yet again. So we all went. And the kids did pick for a while but then they found occupation in hunting for quartz among the pebbles on the nearby dirt track. This was fine with me and I could pick for perhaps forty minutes undisturbed. It was lovely and I can’t wait to go again (as we surely will).

It’s hard to know whether to feel guilty about potentially propagating a noxious weed or satisfied with the pleasant family activity of gathering of a “natural” bounty.

10 thoughts on “Blackberrying

  1. I remember going with my mum and step dad to pick blackberries in the Adelaide hills when I was a teenager. Mum would make jam. It was good jam too, lots of fruit and not too much sugar. I’d sometimes see people picking them around where I lived in Geeveston but they did get sprayed so I never risked it there. I think there is one growing in my garden here. Sshh! Don’t tell anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha. Keep an eye on it. It will take over the whole place. 🙂. When we visited my childhood home near Sydney last year, there was a bush down near the dam that had gone absolutely beserk. It was about seven feet high and covered an area perhaps 70m x 30m. Crazy. A big tractor had to be brought in to slash the thing. Goodness knows how much jam got chewed up in tht exercise. 🥴

      Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting person on blackberries from the other side of the world! It was always a fun family activity picking them as a child, and I enjoy taking my kids out to pick them too. Perhaps they’re not such a nuisance over here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Almost certainly true! Australia is full of foxes, rabbits, feral camels and buffalo and pigs, feral cats and dogs, wild horses, and all manner of plant species which were great where they came from but aren’t so great here. Just a case of “easy to know what was wrong in retrospect”.

      Liked by 1 person

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