Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Golden Blackberry Mornings

Sometimes I think things with a limited season serves to make us appreciate our lives, the cycle of life and death and the joys of things that make the seasons special. They make us slow down and take notice and enjoy the day.

Today I am talking about blackberry season. For readers on the east coast your blackberry picking season ended in July. When I lived back there the season was usually in its peak on the first day of summer, June 21st. I saw some people picking by Astoria High School in early September, but here at my place the berries just came into season last week. I saw them while riding my horse back home through the trails on the back end of my property.

The next evening I went out and picked two gallons. The next morning I went out and picked another two gallons. I now have enough berries to make a years worth of jam. I now go out every morning to pick berries to feed the horses and chickens. It’s not that they need the supplement, it’s the ritual of hanging a bucket strap around your neck and heading up the dew covered trail to where the berries grow.

Mornings around the wild berry patches are alive with dew covered webs and early morning birds. The silence is abbreviated by the sounds of birds and the sounds of choker horns from distant logging operations. Pigeons bounce on the cascara branches as deer browse and grouse rustle under the salal. It is a time when one can see their breath dissipate in the autumn scented air.

There is a sound of the berries hitting the bottom of the bucket that muffles more and more with each hand full. There are thorns that pierce the denim as one over-reaches for those big berries just nearly close enough to pick.

Two gallons of picking is just enough. By the time I pick two gallons I can already smell the warmth of the day coming on. The dew starts to dry and my hands are stained purple as in my tongue from the occasional samples that must be taken for quality control.

When I come down from the hill the horses meet me at the gate and the chickens run in their fenced yard to get as close to me as possible seemingly demanding my attention and their cut of the bounty. I do not disappoint.

These blackberry mornings are golden. Sadly from what I see I will have at best only five more mornings like it this year before the berries will all be gone. Soon my mornings will be spent dodging rain and wind while doing my chores which makes these golden blackberry mornings even more precious.


Blogger darev2005 said...

The urge to shake the dust of Missouri off my feet and head back home to Oregon just got stronger. Even though I disliked being coerced to do it, I always liked blackberry picking season at my Grandpas farm. And I remember being out on my own and stopping somewhere along the road to pick a handful or two in a wild patch. I hope you know that you are not making this any easier! (grin)

4:29 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

Though we have just a small patch of blackberries behind our house, the kids and I have been enjoying going out every night after supper to pick "just enough" to go on top of their ice cream later.

Lovely post.

5:43 AM  
Blogger weese said...

quality control is key.
love the blackberries. they used to grow wild in the suburban yard of my childhood.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Guy, I think this is one of the finest pieces that you have written.
This is the channel of life that I try to stay tuned into as much as possible.
So, earlier you were writing about cutting expenses.
Our focus has always been that of enjoying the small pleasures in life. For us, money is boring.
It seems that most folks just assume that, the more money that they make, the more that they should blow on keeping up with the Jonses.
Mrs. Gearhead & I most enjoy workong in the garden or the orchards together. Making a bowl of popcorn and playing cards & listening to music.
The measure of a meaningful day has no relationship to the amount of money spent.
In fact, If we had to throw money at an activity, that would be a detractor.
I think that much of the masses totally overlook the wonderful life that is right before them and rather," stab themselves all over with pains" that money provides.
Money is a tool.
A toilet plunger is a tool.
I sure don't set around obsessing over how often I GET to use that GREAT toilet plunger!
It is a great tool when you need it.
As far as money goes, I try to use it as little as possible.
There are FAR more interesting and fulfilling things in life to enjoy as you so wonderfully articulated.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Guy, we're up high enough here that August is the end of our season. Sadly, I just polished off the last of this year's 'crop' from the backyard.

One of the nicest posts I've read in a long time.

8:54 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, you're right, I should write with the purpose of discouraging relocation here.

Auntie, you are teaching them well.

Weese, they will come back if you put your lawn tractor away for a couple years.

Gearhead, Thanks, and my best to the Mrs.

Mike, Thanks. Pickins are getting slim here now as well. Hey, there's always next year.

5:49 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Guy, don't change your style on my account. Your blog is a daily ray of sunshine, especially compared to mine. Yesterday was "Stay out of Seattle Day" which I didn't know. It's a day to keep people from moving to Seattle and spoiling it. Maybe you should lobby for a "Stay away from Oregon Day" as well. Years and years ago I saw a "Ziggy" cartoon and it showed him driving past a sign that stated "You are now entering Oregon. Please don't make a habit of it." It took me a few years to really get that one.

10:05 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

We had a Governor that had a campaign to keep people out. There were signs as you entered Oregon that stated, "Thank you for visiting, please don't stay."

It's too late for that now. Probably only 4% of the population is native.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous dalia said...

especially in jam!

nom nom nom...

3:02 PM  
Blogger MissKris said...

I couldn't agree more with what you've written here. Another favorite is Marionberries. An aunt and uncle of my husband have some growing in their back yard and she freezes up their crop every year, then has made a tradition of baking a marionberry pie for every family members' birthday. There is no gift on this earth like one of Aunt Lois' marionberry pies! And thanks so much for your kind words and thoughts, Guy...I'm home and doing just great now. I think we finally got down to the source of ALL the health problems I've been having this year and my surgeon says now with all this behind me, I'm actually in very good health now. Thank GOODNESS!!!

10:39 AM  

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