Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blackberry Picking

I picked blackberries earlier this morning. For those of you who have
not had this experience, let me describe it:

First, I was wading through a hip-deep mess of poison ivy, weeds, and
brambles in search of the blackberry plants. The ground was rough and
my footing was uncertain. I would often have to maneuver through a
maze of young trees and large bushes. The day was heating up rapidly,
the sun was shining in my face, and I was sweating. Mosquitoes were
buzzing around me. I know for a fact that there are poisonous snakes
in that field.

When I actually find a good patch, I start picking them, and the real
pain begins. No matter how careful I am, my hand always gets
scratched up by the thorns. Picking the berries is somewhat delicate;
if I wear gloves I will ruin and drop the berries. The blackberries
usually grow alongside poison ivy, so I usually get that on my hands
and arms too. Usually this is not a problem, if I take a shower right
after I finish. But if the poison ivy oil gets in a scratch, it
causes a horrific line of blisters.

Why did I do this? Why do I undergo this discomfort and risk a
sprained ankle or snakebite in order to obtain a few quarts of
berries? I did not need the nourishment. Blackberries are really
healthy and have lots of nutrients, but I could get them from other
sources. Blackberry cobbler is good, but by any rational calculation,
it is not worth the effort and risk.

I pick blackberries because it is fun and I like doing it. Why? I'm
not really sure. Maybe, by some instinct, I like the sensation of
fighting the wilderness to get my food. It is a good reminder of what
was once necessary for human survival.

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