I had filled the small pail almost without effort—
both hands working deftly down the woody, thorned stems in a race to beat the heat of the day.
Stepping past the poison ivy.
Moving carefully through the long, bent canes.
Selecting the plumpest black berries from the clusters hidden in the tall and tangled grass.
Dripping from beneath the wrappings of heavy denim, tall boots and bug spray.
And poured the bounty out onto a broad, flat tray indoors.
Once frozen, the piles of plastic packages containing the finest fruits of the field would warm an autumn morning, steal the chill from the coldest of winter winds.
Appearing weeks later in muffins, pancakes or jam, with the flavor of this summer day, the fragrance of a sun-warmed July afternoon.
And so, swapping a fresh layer of blackberries for the frozen glassy black beads poured out that morning, before going upstairs that night, I hastily scooped the frosted fruit from the tray and bagged it-- tossing odd shreds of stem, leaf or beetle aside.
One small, frosted snail shell fell off into the sink.
At first light, through a fog that was part morning mist, part sleepy-eyed stupor, I paused at the counter again, filled the pot for coffee and sensed a small speck moving slowly up the wall toward the light of the east-facing window. Hoisting her shell onto the white windowsill, long eye-stalks from a tiny, slender neck scanned back and forth, curiously looking, stretching, examining this strange new indoor world on the wrong side of the glass.
Defrosted—with not a blackberry in sight.
I poured myself a cup of coffee, and, minus the wraps of the previous day, carried her back to the blackberry patch.
My freezer is almost full.
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