Blackberry Winter, Tornado Relief and Charity Organizations

Blackberry Winter

We are getting a short spell of cold weather, right in the midst of spring.  This is so unusual for us, but there is a name for it:  Blackberry Winter.

Apparently it’s common in the South, but after many years living here, it’s the first time I have heard of this.  We are waking up to temps in the mid 30’s, and the high isn’t more than the mid 60’s. Quite a shock after some 80’s  over the past few weeks.

Nothing is normal with the weather now.  The tornadoes of last week have claimed our attention and some of the living.  My husband and I have decided  because of the price of gas  and the issues of going into a tornado area,  we will find some organization and make a donation.  The problem is what organization.

Usually we make a contribution to the Red Cross, but upon reading more about the salaries of the top executives, we are rather ‘chary’ about doing this again.  Does our money go to where we want it, or is it paying salaries for people who are well padded executives?  I think a lot of people are reconsidering where their hard earned money goes today in these issues.

Here in Atlanta, there has been a push for people to ’round up’ their grocery bills, mostly with Publix food stores.  This is fine, good, in fact, but we wanted to do something different.  Unfortunately, another charity organization, “Hosea’s Feed the Hungry and Homeless” which  has been promoted for tornado relief, has a big question mark over it’s operation right now.  Elisabeth Omilami, the executive director and daughter of Hosea Williams, the founder of this organization, sent out an email (using the organization’s corporate email), asking for donations for her daughter’s ‘nest fund’ for her upcoming marriage.  In an interview, Omilami was arrogant and dismissive of the reporter, saying she didn’t know that it went to the general mailing list (which is thousands of people), that it was supposed to go to her ‘extended family’.   Well, it started a firestorm of complaints from some people about that email.  It’s rather pushy and also not in great taste for her to ask for money for a ‘nest fund’ here.  And also makes people wonder where their money actually goes? I think people are right to worry about something like co-mingling of funds.  Someone from the Secretary of State’s office is now investigating this situation.  It could cost her organization a lot of supporters in the future.  These are serious issues and they should be investigated.  It’s sad, because this organization has aided the homeless and poor families in the past.

Watching TV the other night I was struck by a short interview of a man who owns a roofing business in Tucker, Georgia.  He and his wife had just loaded up their truck and taken supplies to Pleasant Grove, Alabama, where they have relatives.  I contacted Jason and talked to him yesterday morning.  I was mightily impressed by his attitude towards what he was doing, and he is a very humble soul.  He told me a few emails that his wife put on Facebook started it all, and they felt compelled to do what they could.  They couldn’t believe the response. After talking to him, I felt good about sending our contribution to the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Alabama.  Jason told me to mark the check for tornado relief, make a copy of it for tax purposes and supplied an address.  I feel confident that our money will go to where it will make a difference, and not to a nest fund.

If anyone wants the address, or Jason’s email or phone number you can contact me privately.  At least I feel now we can make a difference with our small donation.  Pleasant Grove was destroyed, and many people killed.  I am not a Baptist, nor actually a Christian, but it really doesn’t matter.  We can be, my husband and I, part of that stream of humanity who can help.

Lady Nyo


It is Blackberry Winter

One last shot across

The bow of  emerging Spring.

Winter does not play fair,

Will not give up the ghost

Exit with a dignified bow

Preferring to show its rotting last tooth

The blackberries are blooming

Lacy white collars surrounding

Kernels of lusty fruit,

Fruit black as midnight

Sweet as a baby’s kiss,

Unavoidable staining of hands and mouths

To be shared with a snake or two down below.

The Easter planting is done

The earth knows Winter’s game

And blankets seed

With dark, moist soil

Cozy enough to shelter tender life.

We will make blackberry wine

From Blackberry Winter.

The present chill will

Sweeten the fruit

And we will give a toast

To Winter’s frayed glory.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011

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8 Responses to “Blackberry Winter, Tornado Relief and Charity Organizations”

  1. bren Says:


    I look forward to reading Dogwood Winter, Locust Winter, Redbud Winter, Whippoorwill Winter, or my personal favorite Linsey-Woolsey Britches Winter?


  2. ladynyo Says:

    LOL. Bren….

    Too much winter that, and Linsey-Woolsey Britches Winter sounds itchy!

    Thanks for reading and your funny comment.




  3. Margie Says:

    LOL @ Bren & Jane – FAR too much winter indeed! Our temps have been much cooler also here in North Carolina – not winter, but a proper spring at last! The past few years we have jumped directly to 90 degrees in May straight through to September. Ugh!

    I was totally enjoying your poem Jane, thinking about the blackberry bushes (or maybe raspberries) in a field not too far away, until you mentioned the snakes! Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike snakes? I KNOW they are good for the environment, they eat mice and rats, and they are more scared of me than I am of them, yeah, yeah, yeah – but still. The little boy next door to my granddaughters came over today to inform me there was a snake under the front porch. I left through the garage!

    Email the church address if you will. Roger and I have been discussing a donation and we should make one soon if we want to donate in a timely manner. We have donated to the Baptist Men of North Carolina after our recent tornado, but I think Alabama could certainly use some of our help as well.

    Love you!


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Margie!

    Suffered a MAJOR computer crash….avira sent me a lovely virus…..LOL! I have had a computer guy here from 10 til 3:15 today, doing a complete rehaul….so much crap…Our lives are too much wrapped around these damn computers.

    Snakes!!!! LOL!…Yeah, I’m not thrilled about ’em, either. But I remember up on the NC mountain property stuffing my mouth with blackberries and looking down and there was a cotton mouth munching right beneath me. I guess we both were insensate…didn’t know of the others presence.

    “I left throught the garage”….I bet you could have squeezed through the window if you so wanted to.

    Love you…sure hope my email address book didn’t go ‘gone with the wind’….and the computer guy restored this…so send me an email if you don’t get one of mine….and I’ll send you the addresss…great people! restores my faith in humanity.

    Love you back!


  5. bluebee Says:

    I see it’s called BW because it coincides with the blooming of the blackberries – as you say, Lady Nyo, who knows what the weather is doing anymore. Just saw the devastating Mississippi floods on the news here last night – unbelievable


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Bluebee!

    What is going on here??? Mississippi is in a state of deluge….and the worse isn’t over….50 feet cresting? Jesu!
    I don’t have any answers, and have been reading as much as I can about this stuff, but there are so many contradictory opinions. Now I hear that the Polar icecaps are melting so fast this is contributing to the general issue.

    I think Global Warming is really an issue…how it effects all the flooding, I don’t know. Damn cows with their methane. LOL!

    Thanks, Bluebee for reading and your comment. I’m making orange/lemon marmalade today, and not writing another poem, so this will probably be reposted for Oneshot tomorrow. Maybe….


    Lady Nyo


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