Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Scratch Golf


Stellar day at Edgefield, where Dave and I go to play something golf-like. We got six scratches, five cups, four beers, three balls and two shrikes. Actually, I'm kidding about the shrikes. I got carried away, there. There are a ton of birds at Edgefield, which disdains pesticides, but no shrikes.

We did get three balls. That's what you get when you're tromping in the blackberry patches that hunker around the golf course. People will go only so far in to retrieve their golf balls, but if you're specifically trying to retrieve berries, you'll get in there a ways, and there they are. Our master plan is to pick enough berries for pie and then play twelve holes of golf and drink beer. It takes a lot of the sting out of blackberry picking.

We got there an hour before our tee time but the pickings were sparse. For some reason the thickets were bearing old, dead berries and green berries. We were a week behind and ahead, both. It's all about the timing. What we did get seemed to be in the pre-fruit fly maggot stage, so that was good. Dave got out of sight early, looking for the mother lode, and I gave up a half-hour in, but I couldn't find him. This is worrisome. On the east coast, blackberries are something you buy at a nursery and plant and nurture and cross your fingers over. Here in the Pacific Northwest, blackberries go thundering over the landscape and you periodically need to whack away at them to see if your house is under there. Dave's tall and has good stomping ability. That means he can get into the thicket pretty far and can stand and pick in the same location for several minutes. Plenty enough time to be ingested by the blackberries. If you don't make a point of backing out every twenty seconds or so, you could be in there for good. Then someone needs to heave sandwiches toward the moaning sound until winter, when it might be possible to mount a rescue. But it's a bother.

He did turn up eventually, and together we had only enough berries for maybe one pie. Boo! I hate making pie, but this was disappointing. However, the beauty of blackberries is that the season is over before huckleberry season starts. Which means you can always stop picking because the possibility exists you'll still get a lot of huckleberries later. By the time you find out it's a shitty year for huckleberries too, it's too late to go back for blackberries, and you're home free. Meanwhile, we got ready for part two: golf. When you play a round after picking blackberries, you can confidently call yourself a scratch golfer.

I don't know a whole lot about golf. No one is eager to allow me on a real course. But if you go to the Edgefield Par Three golf course, you don't need a baggie of niplicks and wedgies, or whatever it is real golfers carry. You just need a putter and a pitching wedge. You also need to stuff at least five balls in your pocket, or enough to make people afraid to look at your shorts. The blackberries are in pouncing distance of every hole. Any ball that meanders out of the fairway needs to be tended to right away before it gets swallowed up.

They're fancying up the place a little. There was a little plastic box on a pole at crotch height halfway through. Dave said it was a ball-washer. I believe there is a time for hygiene, and a time to just let it go, but that's just me.

My method of golfing is closely aligned with pinball. Most of the time, I'm on the green in two. Briefly. Two, three, four, five, and six, and then begins a series of putts that eventually homes in on the the hole like a pendulum winding down and culminates in a nice fat score. But on this day I played par golf. Over two holes. Three and eleven.

And then it was beer time. Beer casts a favorable light on all endeavors. I examined my berry bucket. Only enough for one pie. Yay!

56 comments:

  1. Those must have been some mighty severe brambles. They appear to have torn off your foot. Or am I having an optical delusion?

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    1. It's a tough shot when the guy has scratches on the front of his leg and the girl has scratches on the back of her leg. You should be wondering about what's above the frame.

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    2. Whatever you imagined, you'll have to add in the weird back twist to get the selfie.

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  2. Yes, the blackberry bushes here in the PNW are something else. They are our version of kudzu, don't you think? Was the pie good? :-)

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    1. Such a kinder, gentler, yummier kudzu! I haven't had the pie. It's in the freezer for future dinners, and right now I'm off wheat and sugar. Sigh.

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    2. You should only go off one thing at a time; otherwise, you won't know which thing you've given up is the right one. So give up wheat and then you can still eat the pie's innards.
      Sounds wonderful --- I've never had a blackberry pie!

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    3. You should only go off one thing at a time; otherwise, you won't know which thing you've given up is the right one. So give up wheat and then you can still eat the pie's innards.
      Sounds wonderful --- I've never had a blackberry pie!

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    4. I was just going to do wheat, but I started thinking about it, and a lot of things that have wheat also have sugar--all those boxed processed foods--and I thought it would be easy. It is. The only thing I miss is ice cream. I miss ice cream. I'll have myself some every now and then, though, one of these days.

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  3. Can't speak for the rest of the east coast, but down here in Baja Georgia the blackberries are akin to yours. Leave ground fallow for twenty minutes and bam! blackberry village. Of course, don't know about up there, but down here they are also favorite hang-out places for little nuisances like diamond-backed rattlesnakes. But I guess compared to a "scratch" golfer, they pose no threat at all.

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    1. Ah yes. We have no poisonous snakes west of the Cascade Range. Yet another little perk.

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  4. OK, I have not read a single word of this post yet and I'm already cracking up at the first photograph. It's going to be a good morning.

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    1. Why, I thought I looked quite regal and worthy of respect.

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  5. LOL

    Any post that includes the phrase "pre-fruit fly maggot stage" makes me laugh. I am sure I am not alone.

    Pearl

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    1. It was only one year that I happened to get all my berries at the point the maggots had hatched. Didn't even know about the possibility before. I brought my bucket home and the little buggers were crawling up the sides. Protein, baby.

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  6. I always knew you had balls. If the point of golf is to hit the ball the fewest number of times, then why swing at all? Unless it's for the berries. I am easily confused.

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    1. I am fond of easily confused people, as it happens.

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  7. Blackberries are delightful, but I don't know whether I'd go charging into a nest of 'em if they're going to scratch like that.

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    1. Well it isn't the brightest thing in the world to dive in with short pants and a t-shirt on. Just sayin'.

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  8. "I hate making pie, but this was disappointing. However, the beauty of blackberries is that the season is over before huckleberry season starts. Which means you can always stop picking because the possibility exists you'll still get a lot of huckleberries later. By the time you find out it's a shitty year for huckleberries too, it's too late to go back for blackberries, and you're home free."

    That whole paragraph cracked me the hell up!!

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    1. Have I ever mentioned I hate making pie? That said, they're looking pretty good this year. Maybe something about making fewer of them is making me more careful with the crust. I haven't had a real leaky one yet, and I'm five to the good.

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  9. The closest blackberry bramble to me is on the side of a busy road heading into an area of town where the boy says I don't belong for any reason. Of course, he says the same thing about my neighborhood. Any how, I don't really want to make a car exhaust and road dirt pie so that bush is out.

    You play golf the way I think I would if anyone would let me on the course. When colleagues ask me if I play golf I have to tell them, sadly, that I am too silly for golf and that the other golfers would not approve of my antics.

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    1. That's the thing--they wouldn't, either. And if you're playing with a loved one, say, a male loved one, he will be all antsy and upset if there's ever someone waiting at the tee for you to finish putting. All antsy and upset. He will forget his love for you and side completely with the strangers at the tee.

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    2. I'm so glad that I understood the outcome before I had to experience it firsthand. I have enough trouble keeping boys around without adding the antsy putting.

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    3. I have a huge fondness for sentences that have probably never been uttered before in all history, like your last sentence here.

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  10. Ah,it's the BACK of your leg...I was having the same trouble as Bill, but I figured it out. I haven't had blackberry pie in ages, but man, I can taste it now.

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    1. Nothing like the sharp tang of blood to brighten up a blackberry pie.

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    2. Back or front of leg, I still can't find a foot! But I do recognise the blackberry scratches. Here on the other side of the world blackberries are listed as noxious weeds so you need to be careful not to pick the ones sprayed with weed killer by our ever vigilant council workers. I LOVE blackberry pie but it's an endangered animal here.

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    3. I have a small foot. More like a nub, really. I will thaw out a blackberry pie for you if you show up.

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  11. Ouch! I totally understand, though. Since I'm sufficiently obsessed by food to brave grizzly bears to get to my garden, I'd undoubtedly forge into brambles for blackberries (if they even grew here). But it would take more balls than I've got to attempt it on a golf course. Here the courses are so crowded and the golfers so rabid that even taking a few seconds to look for a ball in the rough is a killin' offense.

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    1. And our rough is very, very rough. One extra thing we got going for us in this endeavor is that nobody NOBODY playing at Edgefield is all that serious about the game.

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  12. Pie-making obligation reduced to "one" sounds like a win to me! Unless ... you CAN buy blackberries in the store, can't you? And no scratches are involved? Ah, but where would be the fun in that :)

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    1. You know, it almost kills me to pay for fruit that I can gather myself. I'll buy peaches and apples but the berries? Nope.

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  13. "Then someone needs to heave sandwiches toward the moaning sound until winter, when it might be possible to mount a rescue. But it's a bother."

    This is a page out of my family's playbook
    Usually someone will add, "It'll build their character."

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    1. I'm betting you have plenty of characters in your family. I endorse this method.

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  14. Mmm blackberries. Though the hunt here has additional challenges. Snakes (naturally the poisonous varieties) love the blackberry thickets. And the patches of sun between the prickles.
    And our scummy council poisons blackberry bushes. And each and every year they wait until the fruit has formed before napalming the area.
    Ok, they don't use napalm, or agent orange. I don't think.
    Poison-free areas are secrets which are jealously guarded and handed down through the generations.
    But blackberry pie is a thing of joy and beauty. And if I am too lazy to make the pie, a bowl full of berries is pretty good too. Beating the council to them adds extra savour.

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    1. Nope nope nope nope NOPE nope nope. Not picking blackberries in poisonous snake territory. You people are tough as hell. If I had to do that I would develop a huge fondness for lemon chiffon pie.

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  15. It would not allow me to reply to someone else's comments...odd. I have fought blackberry plants on my property for 15 years. They are a pain in the butt! (and the arms, and legs, and everywhere else they touch!)

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    1. The Himalayan blackberry--an invasive species. Always keep a machete in the house so you won't get boxed in.

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  16. One of the nicer surprises when we moved to Halifax is that summer in the oceanside park is also a great place for wild berries - raspberries in July, followed by blackberries in August. We're just casual pickers, though, and happy to leave the tromping to the pie makers.

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    1. Wow, I've never seen wild raspberries. Just thimbleberries and salmonberries.

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  17. That picture of Dave's balls makes me nervous.

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    1. Prepare to get nervouser. Those are my balls.

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  18. When I was living in Scappoose (really) I would go for walks along the back roads picking and eating big fat sweet blackberries the whole way. Now I live in the mid-Ohio valley -yes, Zick country - and there are wild blackberries all over. Little squinchy sour things they are. Not worth the trouble :(

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  19. Golf doesn't make sense to me. Hit a ball so it travels for miles, follow until you find it, then hit it away again. Pfft! *shakes head* My first husband is left handed and paid a lot of money for left handed clubs just so he could pawn them when he needed beer money, then retrieve them later. Repeat, repeat. Well, that's what it seemed like to me, I don't recall him ever actually playing golf.
    Blackberries out here are declared weeds and killed off asap if they're on your property. Unless you're a blackberry farmer I suppose.

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    1. Your golf description reminds me of Dave's take on my quilting: "she cuts fabric up into tiny little pieces and then sews them back together again."

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  20. Now I have to google lemon chiffon pie. Is it similar to lemon meringue? I know what lemon chiffon cake is, I make it a couple of times a year.

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    1. I don't actually know what it is. I'm pretty sure I don't like it though.

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  21. Aha! different, but looks very nice, I'll have to try one of those recipes that came up.

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  22. Your post made me howl. You are too funny :)

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    1. Howl? I must be too funny. I was going for "snort."

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  23. Picking blackberries sounds like gathering stinging nettles. The best ones are in the far middle of a tightly grown patch.
    Great shot of the ball pocket.

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    1. I've never really thought about gathering nettles. I like to discover them in butter on my plate.

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  24. As a former dweller in Virginia, I'm surprised you didn't know blackberries grow wild all over this state. I used to make dozens of jars of blackberry jelly (no pies)until my husband finally nuked the big stand that was getting ready to take over our yard. I miss them!

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    1. I haven't lived there for over forty years, but I don't think they used to have the Himalayan blackberry, which is the nuclear one. I see you do now! Look out and grab your machete!

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