Picking Blackberries

About a week ago Bruce and I went to Iola to the ski trails to pick blackberries. Spending quality time together during the week is one of the few perks of our both being unemployed right now. We took along two big baskets, former Easter baskets from Erik and Travis that were much too big for the job, but we were optimistic after the rain we had had a couple of days before. After all, our cucumbers grew by leaps and bounds in that time.

When we arrived at the trails at about three in the afternoon, the sun was hot, and the grasshoppers were active as we high-stepped through the tall grass toward the trail in the woods. Seeing the cross country trails not covered in a well-groomed layer of snow and teeming with people was odd. So was seeing the wooden Viking ski jumper with grass growing between his legs. Stella, our Labpanion, took the lead immediately. She ran along and flushed a flock of wild turkeys roosting in the trees. When they took wing, it sounded like a herd of deer crashing through the brush! She was thrilled.

After about ten minutes of walking, we found areas where blackberries and some raspberries were still growing. Most of the blackberries weren’t yet ripe, but the raspberries were almost played out. Stella ate almost as many as we picked. She is such a berry hound, taking them when we offered them by hand and plucking them, thorns and all, into her mouth.

Absorbed in our individual thoughts and the quiet of the trails, we picked berry after berry. For nearly two hours we walked the trails in the shade of tall oaks and pines hearing only the bees and the wind soughing through the pines. “Listen to how quiet it is,” Bruce said. “I could live out here.” I smiled to see him so happy. With both of us out of work, we’ve been giving much thought lately to where we would live if we have to move to find work. We have to be ready to move if we must, but for now we are content with going outside and playing—a lot. We enjoy our river, our solitude, and searching for wild edibles. Life is good.

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