With a boatload of writing projects staring me in the face, I got up early this morning and … went blackberry picking.

blackberries-closeSometimes that’s just what has to be done, or what begs to be done. When there’s a two-acre patch of wild blackberries just a few miles away and no one else seems to notice the roadside bonanza, I figure somebody needs to pick at least a few of them.

The quest for blackberries is nothing like picking strawberries on one of those manicured farms where you can be as choosy as you like and still fill a bucket in 10 minutes without ever getting your feet dirty or coming close to a sweat. With blackberries, bucket-filling is measured in hours, not minutes.

blackberries-handBlackberries don’t ripen until the weather’s really hot, and except for some domesticated types, they occupy scrubby land and defend themselves with waves of chiggers, ticks, and thorny foot soldiers beyond counting. The new canes grow tall and flexible as they shield the second-year fruit producers with their own set of ten barbs to the berry, but the sneakiest are the skeletal remains of older canes, leafless but sharp, lying in wait for eager hands.

I’m guessing that whoever first said “No pain, no gain” was not a fitness instructor, but a blackberry picker.

blackberries-landscapeStill, the gain is worth the pain, the sweat, and the discomfort of long pants and sleeves in 90 degree weather. Cobblers are calling, and homemade jam, and fruit for friends less able (or willing) to do their own picking.

And when all is said and done, when the wounds are tended and the grime is washed away, when the fruit is in the jelly jar or the baking dish, when I think about doing it again — writing seems suddenly much more appealing.

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