Kismet and I went berry picking tonight. There is a school behind my apartment complex--their athletic fields are bordered by forest, so every morning Kizzy and I go walking there. I make sure he poos in the woods, away from any playable area, although last week we were accosted by a janitorial looking lady, accusing me of covering the field in dogpoopy. Uh. No. That would be the deer...have you ever been here at seven in the morning? Deer EVERYWHERE. Tonight the deer looked a little nervous as we approached, but they simply moved closer to the forest's edge and kept munching and pooping. I tied Kismet to an old rusty desk that sort of acted like a sheet anchor--he could move around as much as he wanted, but he couldn't move very fast--to make sure he wouldn't chase the deer from here to the Atlantic.
I must have looked like a crazy person: eighty-five degrees out, and here I am wearing jeans and a heavy fall jacket, pulling my socks up over my cuffs. I was afraid of two things: chiggers and brambles. In the eighteenth century, blackberries were known as "lawyers" because the briars dig into your skin and DO NOT LET GO. Blackberries grew in both Europe and the Americas, so they would have been familiar berries to the colonists...Native Americans cultivated them by burning off woodland undergrowth and letting the thorny brambles grow back. I had been enjoying a handful every morning as I walked Kismet, but I finally decided to take advantage of free blackberries and fill up...talk about organic.
The brambles, however, were worse than I had figured on. They would grab ahold of my limbs and wrap themselves right around, then the thorns would break off, lodged into denim. Nothing on the bushes were thorn free. The smallest branches had the sharpest, pin-like thorns, and even the leaves were deadly edged. The only thing I could touch without hurting myself were the berries, and they were often coyly hidden behind brambly canes. I'm talking Sleeping Beauty's castle here, people, surrounded by a moat of thorns.
Soon after I started picking, I noticed that wherever a thorn scored my hand, it puffed up and itched like scratches one might receive from a cat. I tried to be more careful, but I soon started to feel like Harry Potter in the the Lestrange's Gringotts vault...the more I tried not to touch any thorns, the more scratched me. I had little itchy puffy pocks all over my hands, and I could feel more developing on my legs where the thorns poked right through the denim. When I could stand it no longer, I grabbed Kismet and hurried home, where I washed off my arms thoroughly...most of the swelling has gone down, but the back of my right hand is still puffy and hot. It was stuck several times, so I'm hoping nothing is still caught under my skin.
But! It was worth it. An hour of prickings was more than worth the two pounds of blackberries I managed to score. Organic, sun-ripened blackberries, I might add. They'd be all of twenty dollars and more at the store. I'm planning on taking some re-enacting this weekend (Jeff and I are invading Williamsburg with Lord Cornwallis' army, again), and if anyone asks, they're lawyers. And if anyone asks WHY, I'll just show them my battle scarred wrists.
Huzzah for free fruit!