Monday, June 29, 2015

Pickin' Blackberries

Blackberries coming ripe.
Hoo-boy, it's exciting around here at Erin-Tops! The blackberries are coming ripe! They are sweet and full and just dying to sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.

The first summer, I didn't even realize I had them. I was too busy sweating with scant relief from the portable A.C. that was cooling the whole house. Last summer I found a few, then spent much time online trying to figure out if they were blackberries or black raspberries or what. Once a bit educated, I looked around for more. It was as if a camera lens suddenly came into focus. I picked pint after pint full day after day. I think the high season lasts two or three weeks. I finally quit one morning when I reached over to a good bush full of them, heard a rattling at my feet, looked down and had the image of a timber rattler burned into my head. I retreated right quick, as we say around here, and didn't go back for more after that. Nevertheless I have already learned a few things in my short history as a blackberry picker.

Blackberry bush blooms.
Where are the blackberries? First of all, if you walk over your land and get aggravated by tall thick thorn shoots, don't be so aggravated! These are known as canes and are a sign that you will find blackberries around them in season. Secondly, just after the dogwoods bloom blackberry bushes will bloom in similar fashion in a distinctive five-petal flower. Walk around your land the first part of May while the underbrush is still thin and you may be surprised at how many patches of white you will find, markers for where to do your blackberry hunting about two months later.

Hmmm, what's this?
Right here on my hill in middle/west Tennessee, today is the first day I have plenty of berries ripe for picking. And let that rattler story be a cautionary tale: snakes like to hang around the same places blackberries like to grow. This year I'm wearing waders. At the least wear thick high boots and heavy pants. That's one good reason to go very early in the morning, to beat the heat while you're dressed for winter. My waders were soaked from sweat on the inside by the time I'd spent an hour picking this morning. But better safe than sorry.
Spooker likes 'em!

Also, wear long sleeves and a ball cap. The thorns are sharp and will draw blood, and you will not be able to resist leaning over to get the really big black juicy ones that are always just out of reach. The hard part is getting them into your pail without eating them. Sometimes they look ripe when they're really not quite there. If there's even a little bit of red in the berry, don't pick it. And if it doesn't pull off the vine with just a slight tug, don't pick it. If you get some that are not ripe, they will be tart. Once you've worked a bush over for all the black ones, crouch down. You'd be surprised how many more fat girls are there hiding under the leaves.

One hour's pickin', about two quarts.
After you've finished picking, don't wash them! Let them dry, then put them in a container in the refrigerator until you're ready to enjoy them and wash them then. Otherwise they get mushy. If you want to freeze them, let them dry, then lay them out on a cookie sheet in your freezer so they will freeze individually first, then put them in a container. That keeps them from forging into mushy clumps.

If you want some blackberries, now is the time to get busy. And I can tell you this, while you're enjoying the morning, palling around with your dog, dodging snakes and thorns and filling your bucket with delicious natural blackberries, you won't be thinking one iota about the sorry state of the rest of the world.

Friday, June 26, 2015

So what do you expect...

...from a chief justice who calls himself "Caitlin" Roberts?

(That comment was in reaction to yesterday's Supreme Court decision in which Justice Roberts demonstrated that he can't interpret the plain text of Obamacare any better than Bruce Jenner can figure out his anatomy. Suddenly in today's ruling on homosexual marriage Justice Roberts becomes a strict constructionist. He is indeed a confused soul. He is acting as if a puppet master is pulling his strings to contort him in grotesque manner. If we ever have bona fide truth-seeking journalists in this country again, perhaps they will unveil the machinations that are going on behind the scenes.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Slavery was legal.

Just as abortion is now.

With hindsight it's easy here in the 21st century to see that slavery was an abomination. But since slavery had been a commonly accepted practice throughout the world as far back as history went, in 1860 abolition was not such a clear cut subject. Some who were ahead of their time saw that it must be stopped. They are to be revered as modern prophets in line with Abraham Lincoln.

But it was complicated. Take the case of my alma mater, the liberal bastion Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown was named after a family who of course contributed money toward its founding. The Browns were deeply involved in the slave trade. Was slavery legal in Rhode Island? No. But there was money to be made from it nonetheless, transshipping slaves from Africa via eastern seaports to the South. There are tunnels beneath Providence to this day which were used to keep the slaves in transit from ship to overland routes out of the public eye. North and South, there were few clean hands.

And in the fog, good people found themselves on the wrong side of the issue. Sometimes out of true ignorance, sometimes by the very human failing of turning a blind eye, they could not see the sin in slavery. There was as in Providence a strong economic impetus, but there were also simply practical reasons and the sheer momentum of tradition. And ultimately, what caused the South to fight the North over it, there was the cause of states rights and individual property rights vs. an oppressive federal government. This is why so many Confederate soldiers fought against the Union who could not have cared less about defending slavery; the overwhelming majority of Rebel soldiers came from families that owned no slaves. They were fighting in the spirit of "Don't Tread on Me" that had liberated the thirteen original colonies to begin with.

Personally I couldn't give a flip whether the Confederate flag flies in Charleston or Mississippi or anywhere else, as long as you don't infringe on my First Amendment right to fly it if I wish. But I do care about the rights of the unborn babies who never get a chance at a life of freedom because genocidal abortionists snuff them out in the womb. And considering that it is legal, I do not judge the girls and women who are induced by bloody organizations like Planned Parenthood and indeed the federal government to have their babies killed in the name of economic advantage or education or whatever other excuse the abortion industry uses to seduce them into this twenty-first century abomination.

The question is, how much longer will it take before our country recognizes that legal abortion is a sin every bit as pernicious and evil as slavery, and abolish it forever?