I promised that I wouldn’t write another blog until after arranging a certain appointment, but thought that perhaps I would permit myself these gentle observations. The blackberry (or bramble) crop is incredibly plentiful and forgiving this year; forgiving because nature has allowed for rich pickings even if one misses a day or two of potential harvesting, and it cleverly staggers the ripening process. I am very excited at the prospect of visiting a particular thicket in a couple of weeks’ time that currently only has green and red fruit on.
I find it very interesting that, even on an hour-long walk with the faithful canine, thought patterns and systems start to develop. It is, after all, a multi-purpose perambulation. Reilly is very patient with me – but he is given plenty of sniffing time himself. I find myself developing a sort of trade-off; a good long sniff (by the dog, not me…) at a log or incredibly attractive piece of rubbish equates to either 10 or 20 blackberries being picked at the next patch of brambles with potential. I count out loud, because of course he understands…
I am starting to zone in on previously remembered hot spots, developing a preference for which types of fruit are easier to pick and of a reasonable size. I am refining my idea of the ‘perfect’ blackberry – completely purple-black, large but not swollen to the point of over-ripeness, easily pluckable, but not too squidgy to the hand. The evidence for the over-ripe, ‘leaky’, squashy blackberry can be observed in the photo of my left hand, that looks as though it would be more appropriately used for a dermatology text book.
As you focus in on each individual berry, you can become aware of all the micro-environments playing out at an unrushed and natural pace. I personally am not a great fan of bramble thorns, stinging nettles or wasps, and I wonder why they appear to coexist so happily in this particular environment. However, today I was only stung by one nettle, whilst I was greedily reaching for a particularly attractive fruit without paying due attention. I was not stung by any wasp, and in fact became grateful to them for leading me away from the overripe fruit that they prefer.
Fruit picking is the sort of task that focuses one part of the mind on the job in hand, but also allows the imagination free rein. If I have a problem to resolve, I find that allowing this to lie semi-dormant like an idling car engine, satisfying and stress-free progress can be made in the problem solving without even trying. Another kilo of blackberries is now in the freezer awaiting their turn for processing into bramble jelly. I am grateful that I have decided to make time for this simple, free activity. It is delivering satisfaction well beyond the investment.