Nannie Maude Reynolds
shares memories and thoughts about Winston County’s past.
My son came into the house from the pasture the other day and handed me a handful of ripe blackberries. Oh, the memories that handful of
blackberries provoked!! We picked blackberries every year for our winter pies. We knew where the best vines grew and we raced to the blackberry vines early in the morning before the sun got too high in the sky because you had to wear a ton of clothes when picking blackberries. The vines had thorns on them and they grabbed your clothing and sometimes even our skin. We wore straw hats and long sleeves and long pants. I have seen folks wear gloves, but we were not fortunate enough to own a pair of gloves. We wore shoes because we were afraid of snakes. I am deathly afraid of snakes, it does not matter if they are not poisonous, I am just afraid of snakes. If one bit me, it might as well be poisonous because I would die anyway. We carried a bucket that was first used for cane syrup or lard. It held a gallon of the dark, luscious, fruit. Today one of those buckets full of the luscious fruit would bring around $8-$10 or more. Blueberries which have no thorns and can be grown commercially bring around $12 -$20 a gallon. At that time the cows kept the undergrowth of grass mowed down clean around the vines and one could see the vines easily. But it was when you pushed your way into the thicket that it became dangerous concerning snakes. I have never been bitten by a snake, and hopefully God will allow me to go through this life without experiencing that. Mama always cautioned us about eating the berries right off the vines. She wanted us to wait until they were washed and clean before we ate them. However, it would not be long before we had blue tongues and fingers. I heard the story about some ladies who came from town to the country to pick blackberries. They brought with them a tub in which to empty their buckets. They went out to Liberty Church. Someone had told them that the berries were proficient in the pasture behind the graveyard. The Adams family kept their cows in the pasture and every night they brought their cow to their stable and every morning they took her back to the pasture. The ladies were picking berries and when their buckets became full they emptied them into the tub. They had picked hard and had a great amount of berries in their tub. They decided it was about time to go home. They had plenty of berries to last all winter. When they came to the tub, they found that the cow had helped herself to the berries in the tub and were they ever mad! Can’t say I blame them. Elizabeth Ann tells me of a time when she went to pick blackberries with a neighbor, Mary Frank Carter. She fell with her full bucket of berries, scattering them all. Imagine the problem of picking the berries up out of the grass and washing them with all the small bits of trash in them.
And then there were the red bugs!! I have heard them called chiggers, but they are tiny red bugs and when one decides to puncture your skin with the feeding structure on the front of his body, you know it. If that tiny red bug were big as a flea, he could kill you with one bite; his venom is so powerful! The tiny bug sets his sights on the most sacred parts of the body. He digs in and the wheals begin to appear. The bug is so tiny you cannot see him, most of the time. We would have wheals all around our waists and in our armpits and under our underwear. The itching is awful, but the scratching feels so good. The berry pies are so delicious and the taste is worth the effort and trouble we go through to get them. Much like the nuggets of wisdom that God teaches us all through our lives as we go through trials today, a lot of heat, weighty protection, the thorns , and often after the feast, the reminder (Itch) to thank God for His bounty.
Nannie Maude Dewease Reynolds