What Bugs Me: Picking Blackberries

What bugs me most about picking blackberries isn't contending with thorns up and down the entire stem. Or the purplish black stains underneath my fingernails and on my cuticles that makes it look like I haven't washed my hands for a week.

No. The thing that bugs me most is the battle that ensues every spring with the birds.

They have terrible manners. They take a bite of one berry, and then another, never finishing. Oh, I can share. Blackberry bushes supply abundantly. Still, I'd like to know why they can't finish the one they started.

As I watch from my upstairs bathroom window, a mockingbird whose belly is already rotund hops on a branch, ready for a feast. He pecks a bite and I could swear he glances up, taunting me. "Whatta you gonna do?"

He takes another peck or two and then moves on. I call out to him, "Where are your manners? Finish the berry you started." He ignores me and moves along, sampling first one and then another. I feel like Park Ranger Smith who couldn't keep Yogi Bear out of Jellystone Park. 

I decide I won't be bullied by such a tiny creature. With a gleeful look in my eye, I head for the kitchen and get a dish. Rocky, our fourteen pound cat watches. I would send him out to do bird patrol, but he's only brave from behind a storm door.

I step outside, my shoulders back, the container held out prominently like an AK-47. I hear the bird shudder as I head for the ripe berries, Squawking, he positions himself on the shovel handle, his eyes trained on me.

He flies to the tree nearest the blackberry bushes calling out his objections while I begin picking. He moves to the trampoline to continue voicing his complaints. I pick, tossing him a triumphant look, until the only ripe berries left are those he's sampled.

By now you may be asking why I bother with the blackberries. After all, they do sell them in the grocery store, right? Yes, but they aren't fresh like these. 

So why worry about a few lost berries. After all, wouldn't you think over five thousand berries would be enough for me and Mr. Bad Manners Mockingbird to share? It's a matter of principal. So with my bowl full of shiny black berries, untouched by his beak, I head back in the house. I look up at him and say, "Now buddy, eat right or don't eat at all."