So, it’s a scorching July day, and I’m sweating through blue jeans and boots and a long-sleeved denim shirt. Why?

Because it’s blackberry season, that’s why.

Blackberries are a treasure for cobbler-holics, but they don’t come without cost. You can go to the store and spend absurd sums for tiny plastic containers of cultivated berries shipped from who-knows-where, or you can pay the price of sweat, blood, and bugs — not to mention time, trouble, and the threat of snakes — to pick your own, if you can find them.

The blackberries I claim are embedded in the wild growth of a steep road bank, hidden among tall grass, thick bushes, clinging vines, thorny briers, and small trees. They’re a royal pain to pick, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for fresh fruit on my cereal and jam for my toast.

The exercise of picking blackberries is also a reminder that few things that are worthwhile come without both effort and trials. Gainful employment can be demanding and stressful, otherwise it wouldn’t be called “work.” Loving relationships require careful attention and a willingness to risk. Moving forward in life calls for perseverance and hope when the path is rocky. In every case, however, the rewards are worth the effort.

So I will work, even when it’s tiring, because it’s the responsible thing to do, and because potential without productivity seems pointless. I will love, even when it hurts, because life without love is empty and cold. I will hope, even when disappointed, because life without hope is life with no future.

And I will pick blackberries, because the promise is worth the price.

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