Growing up in the country has its advantages. We had wild fruit all over my neighborhood and my mom would make desserts for us if we made it back home before eating them all. My favorite homemade dessert was peach cobbler but my favorite fruit to eat while picking was blackberries. Not too tart and not too sweet, I could eat them until I was sick. Of course, my mom loved for us to pick blackberries so that she could make a blackberry dumpling but she was not too happy to see our shirts forever stained from our berry picking adventures.
It was amazing to have the freedom to roam around the neighborhood picking berries, cherries, plums and peaches but real dangers were a part of our reality as well. Where there is food, there is wildlife trying to get their share. Luckily, my dad had taught us about snakes (poisonous vs. nonpoisonous ones). And yes, I saw many snakes during my childhood including that one faithful day when I was about 10 years old. I was picking blackberries near our garden at the end of a very large backyard when I stuck my hand deep into the berry patch to get the biggest blackberry I had ever seen. And as my had got close to it, I froze. There was a giant rattlesnake curled up asleep within inches of my purple little fingers. I knew it was poisonous from the diamond pattern and the triangular shaped head and I was terrified. While holding my breath, I quickly eased my hand to safety and ran to tell my dad about the big snake that almost got me. Of course, in one fell swoop my dad chopped off the head of the snake and saved his little explorer. And I went back to berry picking but making sure to look before I reach after my near run in with mr. rattler. Blackberries are still one of my favorite fruit and I still think about that snake encounter everytime I go wild berry picking. Most of all, I think about my dad and how he was there to save the day.