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 Lessons from the native blackberry (dewberry?) patch: gratefully all scratched up!

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dragonfly
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Join date : 2010-06-04

PostSubject: Lessons from the native blackberry (dewberry?) patch: gratefully all scratched up!   Wed May 25, 2011 10:56 pm

I have a roughly 20x15 ft space in my garden that was intended to be a native wildflower and grassland ‘prairie’.
Year four I lost the battle; the wild blackberries claimed victory.

Misfortune or best of luck?

We had a relatively large number of sub-freezing events scattered throughout this past winter. As a result, all my papaya trees (along with the fruit waiting for spring to ripen) died back to the ground. My loquat trees also lost all the young fruit that was setting.
Two of my favorite fruits lost for this year!

Loss or Gain?

However, and perhaps also related to the colder than usual winter weather, early this spring my wild blackberry vines were covered in an unprecedented blanket of white flowers that, in addition to making the bees very happy, quickly transformed into a delicious glut of beautiful, succulent, berries. We couldn’t eat them fast enough to keep up with the ripening fruit; berries for breakfast, berries for cobblers, and berries straight from the vine. And, while the squirrels were rapidly attempting to denude my apple trees before the apples could fully ripen, pesky squirrels and birds both steer clear of the briar patch.

While harvest is slow (and at times painful!), it allowed plenty of time for thought:

The best things in life are free, and sometimes a bit painful.

Look low and near. The largest fruit always looks just beyond your reach. But if you stop and look, you can see that as the fruit fully ripens it switches from waving high on the vine, to hanging low to the ground, and there is plenty, just under the tangle at your feet.

Meditations on childhood. Like a time machine. And gratitude for this gift and for those earliest experiences that allow me now, again, to participate in this joy.

Interconnectivity. Last fall/early winter I had walked through the patch, compressing the previous year’s spent vines to the ground. In the early spring, low lying new growth emerged, followed by a spectacular profusion of white floating on top of the prostrate vines. The hum of bees, beckoned by the flagrant display, made a peaceful space for meditation. Once the fruit was set, for the moment green and hard, the shifting focus was swift and dramatic. A second wave of growth, long luxurious vines, fresh and rampant, grew up and covered over the reddening fruit. To protect the immature fruit from sun? To conceal it from foragers before the seeds were matured? To shade the ground; conserving water for the final ripening? Sheltered and secured we waited. When the berries were ripe we pushed aside the vines and enjoyed the free bounty. As the weeks of picking and vine opening continued the berries became sweeter. Is this because the final ripening occurs in ever more sun?

A rare treat, a relished childhood ritual, and insights gained!

Later, I will again press the spent vines to the ground.
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Lessons from the native blackberry (dewberry?) patch: gratefully all scratched up!
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