Pickin’ and Grinnin’

Why would you have sex with a chain-link fence? 

I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t see how a man would do it, and I didn’t understand the attraction. I later learned the man was drunk, and thought the sex was a female.

That’s the thing with picking fruit: you have time to think.

blackberries

h/t to Fables and Flora for the photo

Information was exchanged yesterday that the blackberries were looking good, and there were a lot. We were welcome to come and pick. We took up the offer this morning, driving the short distance to the property on the border between Talent and Phoenix.

As mornings go, it was normal, and glorious with sunshine, blue skies, and budding clouds. Summer’s heat had withdrawn to re-organize and energize, so the air was a comfortable seventy degrees. Most of the area’s wildfire smoke had hitched a ride out of the valley on the wind.

I’d heard about the sex with the chain-link fence on the radio during the drive. Neighbors had it on video. Seeing the video isn’t on my bucket list.

Starting out your berry picking is about looking around to find a ripe offering, sampling them to confirm your visual assessment, and then embracing the mechanics. Like blueberries, the key is color, and its easy release. If the berry is ready to be picked there’s no effort. Just a slight tug, and it rolls off the bush and into your hand. If they don’t come off like this, the product is likely to be sour.

Differences arise between blackberries and blueberries. While I enjoy their sweet juiciness, the largest difference from a picking point of view is that blackberries are in thorny brambles. There are many gorgeous gems hanging there, but getting to them is challenging without sacrificing some blood. Unlike my wife, I’m not a person willing to reach for a berry too far. That’s probably why she’s a better picker than me, collecting about one hundred and fifty percent of the produce that I acquire in the same period.

I’m not jealous; she’s just a better picker. Besides, once we get home, they belong to us, and are shared.

Shouting, “You’ll never take me alive, picking man,” the blackberries sometimes leap to freedom as I approached. The blueberries do it the same, so I don’t take it personally.

Unfortunately, some strange streams empty into this vacant space of thoughts. We had three television stations in southern West Virginia, where I went to high school for my final three years. All three stations featured a show called “Hee Haw.” It may be my imagination, but “Hee Haw” seemed to be on thirty hours a day.

“Hee Haw” was a syndicated variety show that featured country and western music, buxom women, and corny puns and jokes. Roy Clark and Buck Owens were the show’s hosts. One segment was called, “Pickin’ and Grinnin’.” Naturally, out there, my mind invited the segment in: “I’m a pickin’,” Roy or Buck would say, and the other would reply, “And I’m a grinnin’.” Then they’d play some music, stopping for a joke before resuming. They’d do this three or four times.

My mind mercifully cut the stream off after a while. Thereafter, I turned resources toward scenes I was contemplating, character development, and pacing and plotting.

It was a short pick, about an hour. We ended up with twelve pints. Of course, it was the year’s second pick, so we’ll freeze them, and be set for at least a few months.

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