Because it Hurts When You’re Not Mindful
Picking started late this year. Today was my first day going after blackberries, which are different than the rest.
Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries — I can just sit on a stool and pick as my mind wanders anywhere.
Let your mind wander when you’re picking blackberries and you pay for it in blood and ruined clothing. Two of my favorite very lightweight summer pants. Gone. Rips never get smaller. The first was excusable. The second was not.
It took a few minutes to find the right frame of mind for approaching the bushes and asking for some of their fruit. I’m learning. You don’t just start yanking berries out of blackberry bushes.
First we need to look over the whole place. Appreciate what there is.
Thank the plants for working with the sun and the rain and the soil to make these berries. I wish I could turn photons into blackberries, but I can’t so I’m grateful to have these folks nearby who can.
I take them slowly. Only if they’re almost bursting open with juice. Drop them into the bag one at a time.
Pretty soon I hold a few and keep picking, dropping four or five into the bag.
Rule of Thumb: If you need to pull, it isn’t ready.
The blackberry almost falls into your hand when it’s the right time. We learn to spot the perfect ones and waste no time or motion on the others.
There is a flow to picking blackberries that is something like a form of T’ai Chi. Slow, intentional movements, one leading naturally to the next, to complete a maneuver.
When the berry is ready to come, it will come. We move with care to the next.
When we are well into the blackberry meditation, we are taking only what is freely given.
We’re part of something bigger. Branches, thorns, fingers, sun in the eyes, arms slicing through danger to get a good one. Now the buzzing right in the ear.
Bees find me. Stealing their lunch, but just some of it. I’m not an industrial harvest, just a selective picker taking a few. I say to myself, then pick.
Hearing the bees is part of the meditation, seeing them around me checking me out, feeling the air move as they fly close to my hands — just continue picking. Just noticing the bees and going back to blackberries.
I dropped two out of the palm of my hand when I was reaching for a third. Done. Have to leave it behind. I feel the thought of reaching extra high for a nice one way up in the bush to make up for it.
Keeping picking perfect blackberries.
Ones I can get to. There’s enough. No need to reach in more and more, the risk going up with every inch. A big thorn catching the soft skin on the underside of your wrist. Maybe even taking a fall.
In some legends, when Lucifer fell from Heaven to Earth, he landed in a blackberry patch. To me, that means for thousands of years the worst thing a storyteller could think of falling into has been a blackberry patch.
Depending on the overall harvest, I might use ladders and planks and long sticks with hooks to help me get at the ultimate juicers up at the top later on. Not today, not the first blackberry picking of the season.
Toward the end, there was one absolutely perfect blackberry just beyond my safety zone. I had just about filled my second x-large sandwich sized zip lock bag. I hadn’t eaten any blackberries yet. I stepped in a teeny bit deeper, stretched a little more and got it.
Coming back to vertical, not relaxing until I’m back on the ground.
I pop the perfect berry into my mouth. It sends warm juice all over inside my mouth. I swish it around and swallow. Savor. Not moving.
Then I pick a few more easy ones. Finish the bag.
Walk back to the truck.
Grateful for all that brought me here to pick these blackberries.
I have a black belt in learning and I’ve been meditating for so long you’d think I’d be enlightened but I’m not.