I have good friends who go off regularly to do good work and leave their lovely property in the hands of well meaning non-nature types like me. I call it pretend farming. I drive about 20 minutes and do the work I want for the reward I love and leave behind piles of sticker branches and a few tomatos on the counter and eventually some blackberry sorbet in the freezer. I also squeezed in eating fresh berries and baking scones and two days ago cobbler!
Granted, “heirloom” blackberries, in this case those planted several generations ago and left to create briar patch after overgrown briar patch are a plant worthy of respect. The thorns are serious business, much more likely to let you get in to pick the berries than to get out unscathed to put them in the box! But this annual process of learning about these bushes and how they grow and just how to cut them so that they will continue the season this year and to come back again in a way that is a bit easier next year is fun. Getting to know the patches takes time, but it also gives me time in a way. I get to experiment with allowing our oldest to exercise authority over his young brother. I have time to think and watch a part of the world around me that doesn’t usually catch my eye, while sweating in my jeans, long sleeve shirt, Bean boots and hat.
Today I found an empty bird’s nest in the first patch I was picking and was careful not to disturb it while still getting as many of the ripe berries as possible. I watch for critters and then watch them work around me. I listen to the birds and wonder if they are warning me or warning other birds or animals about me! There is a peace to the process of slowly picking up a branch and checking for ripe berries and thinking about what to do with them, who to share them with, etc. There is a patience to waiting for tomorrow’s berries or even next year’s berries as I snip my way to the best berries of the day.
As usual in these moments, I think about the process of rooting. Growing long-term in one place in a way that lets you find routine in the work and pattern in the days as they turn to weeks and seasons. To know a place, its plants, its seasons and especially its people, adds a comfort to our lives as we see God’s hand, not just in the big events but in the daily wonders of ripening berries, nesting birds and growing kids.
Blessings for an abundant season of growth!