SLIM PICKINS IN THE BLACKBERRY PATCH
"If the rain spoils our picnic, but saves a farmer's crop, who are we to say it shouldn't rain?" Tom Barrett
Wild blackberries are 85% water. So when it didn't rain here in Harmony during the months of April and May, I knew my "crop" was in trouble.
During my walks through the woods during this short-term drought, I noticed lots of dead blackberry bushes, then few blossoms on the living plants, then small and shriveled green berries in mid-May when the branches are usually loaded with ripe, plump fruit. I pretty much wrote off picking wild blackberries this year.
But 10 days ago the weather patterns shifted. It started to rain nearly every day. And not just spotty showers but real drenching, soaking rain. The kind of rain that ruins Orlando theme-park vacations and trips to the beach. But nourishes wild blackberry plants.
Early Saturday morning I slipped into my thorn-resistant picking gear and headed to the woods. I didn't expect to find much - maybe just enough to sprinkle on my cereal that day - but was I surprised! The last-minute moisture had quickly found its way up the prickly stems and into the berries themselves. There still weren't many berries, but the ripe ones I found were large and fat and juicy. The kind that fill your bucket quickly.
In 90 minutes I had a gallon or so, enough to sweeten my cereal and top my Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream and maybe even bake a yummy cobbler. (Unfortunately, friends and neighbors, not enough this year to give away to others or sell at the local farmers market like I usually do.)
So if the weather messed up your recent trip to Disney or Universal or Wild Florida or Cocoa Beach, I'm really sorry. If it makes you feel any better, please know that your loss was my gain. Those last-minute rains salvaged this year's wild blackberry harvest in Harmony.