Tell me if this sounds strange. I've been dreaming about raspberries--lifting lopped over canes and moving aside leaves in search of the perfect black raspberry. It's no wonder they've invaded my dreams, I've been picking them every morning for the last eight days. Way to the side of our wooded property, with plenty of sun from the open field next door lies our lovely little patch of berries. We discovered it our first spring here. Last year I was recovering from surgery and unable to bend over so the patch was left undisturbed and boy did it grow! I know that you're supposed to prune back the canes that bear fruit in a cultivated patch, but I've found the best producers are the really old, purple canes.
Instead, I've been pruning back some of the newer growth so I can still access the old stuff. I've also been cutting out all sorts of other thorny plants--apparently things that can stick you like to stick together. The thorns are a real deterrent to my little harvesting helper. One time I turned his displeasure into an object lesson. "You know Schnickelfritz, we wouldn't have to deal with all these thorns if Adam and Eve hadn't disobeyed God." I explained that as punishment for the original sin God allowed thorns and thistles to grow. The lesson really stuck and often when we're walking in our woods my son will warn me to watch out for the "sin bush" in our path.
I've also gotten up close and personal with some of the critters in our raspberry patch. One day I saw a chipmunk skedaddle into the underbruch as I approached, another time there was a brown toad trying to blend in with the dead leaves. The least favorite encounters are the ticks. I spray down with Deep Woods replellant but have still managed to collect four in this year's tick tally. The most memorable encounter began with the sound of leaves crunching around my feet. I have to step over canes and try to get a foothold wherever I can and so my feet aren't always visible to me. The sound rustling was not quick and intermittant like a squirrel or chipmunk might make. This was slow and deliberate. My mind was drawn back to last weekend when my husband, The Toolman, pointed out a four foot black snake he'd almost hit with the mower. He'd casually tossed it out of his way and TOWARDS MY RASPBERRIES! He said the snake wouldn't hurt me but that didn't mean I wanted him crawling over my toes while I was picking. Now I was afraid of just such an encounter. That thought quickly went from bad to worse as the word "copperhead" flashed through my mind. From where I stood I could see the place my husband had killed a nest of them our first year.
Now it just so happened that I'd been listening to a Summit Ministries lecture the day before. Usually a lecture about World views wouldn't pop into my mind when I'm worried about snakebites, but this particular lecturer had just returned from a trip to the Australian Outback--home to the world's deadliest snakes. He had been advised to hold still and let the snake crawl over his foot. I didn't know if I could do that but I also couldn't see the snake and if I tried to move I might actually step on it. "Dear God," I prayed, " help me to keep my wits and hold still." Well God not only protected me but he gave me a humorous lesson in giving in to fear and worry. Within a minute, the reptile that crawl over my foot and into view was a box turtle!
Post Script--I'm in need of some good raspberry recipes. Please post some in the somments.