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Yesterday, I considered that it was a good possibility that I am trying too hard again – expecting too much of myself. Instead of working on any writing after the blog, and pouting about not being able to relax in savasana without somebody coming in the room and dancing around my head, I decided that the key might actually be rather than focusing intensely on said task or goal, it could be more beneficial to focus on nothing at all. It occurred to me that that could be the element I’m missing in finding mental peace.
With this in mind, I put Ivy in the mei-tai and headed out to the blackberry bushes. Deladis chose to stay inside and play. I’ve been picking them everyday as they ripen. I’ll have a pint soon, but I’m going to keep picking until they are gone. (If you have any good traditional blackberry recipes to share, I’d love to read them!) I wanted to get some of the leaves this time to add to my new kitchen experiment - fermenting cucumbers… pickles.
I have been taught since childhood about the importance of watching out for snakes. I learned how to identify the different species and the ones that were the most dangerous. I was told what to do if I saw a snake, or if I was bit by one. It comes with the territory being a child of Appalachia. One of the things that I have always remembered is – where there are blackberries, there are snakes.
I don’t know if it is the brambles that attracts them, or the plethora of little critters coming to eat berries. If I were a snake, I’d say it is a little of both. In my recent blackberry picking extravaganza, I’ve been going into some areas that are very grown over to get to those luscious dark berries. I try to get at every ripe berry I see. I have been being very careful and watching where I step. Having done this for a week now without seeing a snake, I’ve been braving the places that you’d need a machete to cut through the weeds… if you wanted to cut through the weeds that is.
I picked more berries than I had been able to find during any other trip up the holler. Lars (our dalmatian) was with me sniffing here and there. I was standing in some brush having picked all the berries on that particular vine. I started picking some of the larger leaves to use in the bottom of my pickle jars, when I got a strong feeling that I needed to look down and out a bit.
I did, and about 3 feet from me laid a large copperhead. His head was up and his tongue was flicking, catching my scent. He wasn’t poised to strike, but his body was held in a way that he could do so if the need arose. I looked him in the eyes, and he me for a moment. It was a weird feeling. My heart didn’t pound. The copperhead is one of the most feared snakes in the mountains. I didn’t become alarmed. A little nervous, but not scared, for when our eyes met I sensed nothing but a mutual respect. If I showed him proper respect, he’d have no reason to hurt me. I had always been told by my Dad that if I saw a poisonous snake, to move slowly, but not to hang around. This was only one of many times I had encountered a copperhead, but it was the first time I had been so close to stepping on it. When I could pull my eyes away from his, I called Lars and eased my way back to the trail. I walked at a normal pace toward home with Lars leading the way.
It might be a few days before I take my blackberry picking on up the holler into those dark places where my parents always told me not to go. I’ll go back though, because for one quick moment I saw clearly where I fit into the bigger picture.