Monday, June 17, 2013

A Blackberry Day

I'm moving slowly today but I did take a walk. I feel like maybe my heart exploded and it's trying to patch itself up again or at least become accustomed to its new construction. Deconstruction. Whatever.
When I ran into Bubba-With-One-Leg (not the one who shot himself but the one who walks) and we chatted for a moment, I found my eyes spilling with tears for no reason at all except that he has the kindest eyes and he is always so sweet to me and he gets out and he walks and he notices when I've been missing and that was all it took.
"I'm a mess," I told him. And I am.

But it's okay. Maybe, like in the Jason Mraz song, a beautiful mess.

The blackberries are ripening and ready to begin picking. Some of them are small nubbins, the sort that you have to pick a million of to make a pie but some, the ones more in the shade, are big and plump and beautiful.

Those bushes, of course, are more scarce and I should get out there with my cut-off milk jug tied around my waist to pick the large ones and the small. There are no riches to compare with jars of blackberry preserves stored in the cabinet to open in winter, sweet purple-black jewels to spread on biscuits and pancakes. When I pick them, even if I am wearing long sleeves (a torture in this heat), the prickly bushes catch me and my arms end up bleeding and the thick, clotted spots look not unlike the the juice of the berries themselves, especially when have been cooked down with  the sugar. We are made of salt though, so there the comparison ends.

The Gulf Coast Fritillaries are out, sipping from one plant to another. They are fluttering flowers, moving in and out of the bushes and it's not until you stop to look do you realize the sheer number of them. I hear that their favorite food is the nectar of the Passion Flower and those are beginning their blooming. I will get a picture soon although I have posted them many times. They delight me every year and every year, when I see them, I am reminded of the first time I ever saw one and I was so shocked by it- it was so completely unlike any flower I'd ever seen- that I truly did think it had arrived from another planet. There was no other explanation. But here is the butterfly, no less beautiful for its abundance.

I am so grateful to be surrounded by all of this nature, even if sometimes it ends up being TOO MUCH NATURE as Lily screamed once when confronted with not only a bat but a cockroach in the small confined space of the bathroom. I just swept up and tossed outside the desiccated corpse of a small frog, covered in red ants from my porch and Mr. Moon finally successfully trapped a huge rat which has been nesting beneath the lawn mower in the garage. The only snakes I've seen so far this year have been flattened ones on the road, though. I know they're here, I just haven't run across one yet. It will happen either in my yard or in the fields when I pick berries or on the path as I walk. It always does. I would much rather NOT find one in the hen house, an egg halfway down it's throat but that, too, is always possible and I am careful when I check for eggs. They are no threat to me, those oak snakes, but they are a shock to the system.
Sssserpent, says my brain. Beware.
Even the most beautiful black snake I ever saw, lying in the sun and spied by me while I was picking berries a few years ago gave me that immediate reaction but I stood back and watched it for some time, awed by its beauty which is somehow alien too, like the Passion Flower.

I have two sagos blooming in my yard. One, the female.

 It is making seeds. Can you see them?

And the other, most decidedly and proudly and erectly male.

Sagos are not truly palms at all, but are more closely related to pines. That is the cone you see and isn't it a fine thing? I looked around on the internet a little bit and read that some people find these offensive and wonder if you can cut them. Oh my. What sort of a prude would you have to be to think like that? The expert suggested merely throwing a towel over them if they offend because cutting them before they dry up is deleterious to the plant. The sight of that one which is growing in front of my front porch delights me. As I always say, when Nature finds a design she likes, she uses it wherever she can.

I have on my overalls now. I think I will get out in the garden (moving slowly, so slowly) and do a little work there. I feel the need to journey with no apparent destination in my yard and house, perhaps like the Fritillary, flitting from this task to that one, from kitchen to laundry room, to garden, to hen house, picking up this, pulling that, trimming back this, washing, folding, tidying both in house and in yard. I do not want to identify myself today as anything in particular, neither indoor-creature nor out, and I have the AC off and the doors open so that there is no real delineation. The crickets are singing summer chorals and the air is still. I am putting myself back together again as I put my tiny world back together, or at least in some regard.

I do not really think I'm a mess at all. Not even a beautiful one. I am simply being. And if tears come easily, well, all for the better. There is no reason not to cry if I need to. There is no reason not to realize that this is a perfect day as it is, as I move slowly through it, as much a part of it as a sago bloom, a butterfly, a hen's egg, a tiny frog. This day is not unlike a blackberry, ripe and plump and ready to pick, sweet and warm from the sun.


  1. Out here on the west coast in souther Cal., we have some decidedly obscene-looking cacti, and that's just all right because we're loose out here, loose with our morals.

    Wander on, Ms. Moon and thank you for taking us with you in both garden and life.

  2. Thank you for sharing a beautiful, rich portrait of your day with us.

    I love you, and I am glad that you have such a day and appreciate it so.

    Also, thanks for including THE SNAKES. Just the thought gives me THE SHIVERS.

    Love you,


  3. I love your thoughts today. Needing to cut suggestive plants off is about as mental as needing to cover up suggestive table legs. Honestly. People!

  4. I miss the black berries. Enjoy them.

  5. I love hearing about your garden. Those blackberries look awesome. You are an incredible writer Ms. Moon. Sweet Jo

  6. Oooo! Blackberries! Blackberry pie & blackberry jam. Luscious. :). Butterfly is gorgeous indeed. You live and love in a wonderful, if steamy, world! And there isn't a thing wrong with a good cry. Cleansing & healthy!

  7. I have three sagos in the yard, two male and one female (make your own joke), and it's not the appearance that's the problem. I've never been able to stand the sickly-sweet smell that they give off when they're in bloom.

  8. My new blackberry plants are starting to sprout. They looked like dead sticks when they arrived. Saw a couple of copperheads today.

  9. Elizabeth- My morals, too, are a bit loose. I love the male bloom of the sago.

    Ms. Beloved Bastard- I would handle snakes for you, putting them in my own bosom. I swear.

    Jo- Can you even imagine? Lord, lord.

    Ms. Fleur- I need to make myself go out and pick. I do.

    Sweet Jo- You are an incredible commenter. And thank you. Always.

    Mary- You are right. I need to let it go. Let my heart leak out my eyes. It's time.

    Jon- I've never noticed a smell. Hmmmmm....

    Syd- Copperheads? Oh fuck.

  10. What SB said - a beautiful and rich portrait. I pick the wild black raspberries that grow nearby every year, and we make syrup for our pancakes and waffles that is just the best. Once in a while I come across a snake and my lizard brain knows only fear. I don't like spiders or snakes, but I'm trying to share my world with them.

    I learn something wonderful or amazing from you almost every day, like the sago palms, which are lovely and fascinating. I'm so glad I decided to end my day at your blog. And now I'm going to try to sleep, to put myself back together too. I am a dreadful kind of tired lately and my tears are coming so unexpectedly and easily. I'm too fragile for my own good right now. Your words, and this post especially, are perfect. Thanks so very much.

  11. Mel- I am hoping you are feeling better today, that you got good rest and woke up to a different light.


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