Tuesday, July 28, 2009



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.

tiny snail on windowsill

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.

tiny snail and the blackberries

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Michelle Johnson said...

What an adventure this tiny snail had. I'm sure he was pleased to be back in his natural habitat. Beautiful post. Have a great day.

bobbie said...

I'm glad you took him home again.
Those berries look scrumptious!

RuneE said...

It must have been strange indeed for the snail - no berries to be found in the sink!

PS We are doing black and red currants

Shey said...

An enjoyable post! Love the photos. The berries looks good too. :)

Ginnymo said...

Loved this post Nina!! The Blackberries look so good. I remember when I used to pick them. They were so delicious. I love the story of the little snail and am glad you took him back home. I bet he was scared for a while ..ha!

James said...

I just finshed eating some berries now I want some more.

MObugs said...

Beautiful pictures, I especially love the one of your sink with the lovely red tomatoes in the windowsill. That snail probably thought he was having a Close Encounters experience. I'm sure he is relieved to be back home, safe and sound among the berries.

Mara said...

I'm not too fond of blackberries, preferring raspberries instead, but the photo accompanying your story was really nice. And the snail was brilliant... as were you for putting him back outside

Leslie: said...

You ARE an adventurer to go out to those gnarly thorny bushes to harvest blackberries!

Actually, I have done it, too - in the past. Now I send my daughters out to pick for me.

Youngest just picked me 5 lbs of blueberries that I will wash and freeze - or just eat!

foto CHIP Sweden said...

It is fantastic to go out and pick berries. I put them in my mouth - no left for the freezer :)
I like your shots both sepia and berries :)

Babooshka said...

Love fresh picked fruit made in to pies and jams, but I don't like the stinging nettles that catch you.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

So nice of you to return her to her home!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am so glad we have our tame blackberries. No thorns and no chiggers. Yes, I know the taste isn't the same but hey I enjoy them anyway. That little snail is so lucky you found it.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I knew you would lovingly carry her back to her berry patch home Nina.

Tumblewords: said...

Aw, what a rapid journey that was for the slow moving snail. Neat post and the berries do look yummy, yummy!

Roger Owen Green said...

Friend of mine is out of work a couple days because of poison ivy; glad you missed it.

TSannie said...

Nature is just...well, wonderful!

Joanna said...

Very sweet post. I like the photos and the narrative. My B is for blackberries too!

cestoady said...

What an exciting story this Tiny Snail
can tell its tiny friends -- " GUESS what happened to ME yesterday -- I was out for a glide in the blackberry patch when ..... "

jay said...

Oh, how sweet! I'm glad she wasn't killed by the temperatures! Bit of a surprise for her though, huh?

Rose said...

You are such a storyteller, Nina! Even without the photos I can almost taste these plump, ripe berries and see the snail trying to find her way home. Your returning her to the blackberry patch is the perfect ending.

Q said...

Dear Nina,
Yummy berries! Lovely photographs and nice story. I was sweating in the heat with you!
So kind of your to return Miss Snail to her neighborhood!
She is very lovely...beautiful berries too. You have a kind heart.

Anonymous said...

Drooling already. I hiked Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. All along the trail there were blackberries. We gorged ourselves the whole way up. A great day.

Trillium said...

Hi Nina,
As I read your post I could taste the red raspberries I picked in the woods last Saturday and enjoyed on some black raspberry ice cream. What a contrast of color and flavors. Lavender, raspberry red--tart and sweet.
Your writing and photos are lovely. Thank you!

deejbrown said...

This photo of a tiny shred of life struggling to survive brought tears to my eyes. May your berries be blessed for having been touched by this creature.

Deborah Godin said...

Such an amazing story, along the photo of the elegant little snail...I won't soon forget either!

Appalachian Lady said...

The berries are plump this year--great for freezing. You are right that they warm up any cold winter day.