August is wild blackberry picking time—that is WILD blackberries. These you just don’t go down to the local fruit market, grab a pint of em and head back home, and eat them plain or in a pie.

No, wild blackberry picking means heading to the Northern woods of Wisconsin.  And there in the thick of the woods you begin your search of these pungent but delicious berries. You have to dress right because the brambles you fight through to get them are treacherous.  The thorns are so piercing they’ll grab your cap and take it right off your head and then the briars get twisted in your hair and it’s an awful time and a big ouch. Usually “pros” at wild blackberry picking will tie a plastic five quart pail around their waste so they can carefully grab the briars with one hand and pick the berries off with the other.

You need to wear jeans and a jean jacket.  That is the only cloth that the dreadful briars can not penetrate. Yet, in spite of the jean jacket, when you stretch through the briars to grab a handful of these berries you do expose your arms at times and those thorns manage to make some ugly scratches. 

O yes, you need to watch for black bears, because they like them just as much as you. You have to be quite diplomatic with them, especially the mother bears, they just don’t like it when you get too close to their cubs. They will flee if they hear you coming so it is best not to surprise them.  The “pros” usually keep talking to each other or play a small radio to alert the bears.

One nice thing about the bears is that they will often get there before you and have their fill.  They leave some nice paths through the briars, making it easier to move through the blackberry thickets.   

Folks today aren't always aware of the true origin of things. Like some believe milk comes from a bottle, not a cow. And these same folks don't think you can go out and picks these wonderful berries in the wild. They'll argue with you, "You buy these at the supermarket!" Oh but there are wild berries. Wild blackberries come from God’s country, places like the woods of Northern Wisconsin. And no machine picked them, “pros” do.

And here are some of the signs that a “pro” has been picking them.  Don’t look at the clothes they are wearing.  Usually they come home, take a shower and then display their berries.  If you still can’t see the signs, look at their fingers, the tips will be a dark purplish red.

Yes, you can argue that they may have just rubbed their hands in the berries after they got home from the market. Uh uh.  Look closer at their hands and arms.  See the scratches?  No one in their right mind is going to go down to the market, pick up a pint of blackberries and then scratch up their arms on the way home. Not on your life.Those scratches are the mark of a pro.

You still want to argue the point. Go right ahead and make your pie and then invite over a “pro.”  They’ll take one taste of your pie and say, “no way!”  They know the difference. Only the “pro” knows that very unique taste of a wild blackberry pie.  And chances are, with all their skepticism a pro is never going to invite them over for a fresh piece of blackberry pie and coffee.  How tragic.  They will never have the chance to taste the difference.

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