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Stalking Wild Blackberries

It is harvest time in Oregon, and I am nearly frantic with the desire to capture as much of nature's bounty as I can.

The yellow Summer squash are still coming in at a rate of one a day, and have been for about a month. I'm baking my ninth and tenth loaves of squash bread as I write, and have made gallons of "squash chips" in the dehydrator. My parents' two apple trees are loaded with apples, most of them out of reach. Still, we filled two large bags from one tree alone. Our own wild pear trees we have found make not-so-delicious pears for fresh eating, but are amazing when cut up and dehydrated. They are like little gems of pear nectar. Our beans are going absolutely crazy, so much so that I actually removed one row of plants. And I've learned to make jams this year (with varied success) and have put up raspberry, blueberry, and strawberry rhubarb.

Now the blackberries are in their full splendor, growing wild over much of the countryside, and affording what looks to be an acre of good eating at my parents' place alone. The folks in Eugene seem to have a love-hate relationship with these blackberries. For one thing, the wild blackberry plant you see most everywhere is an invasive species, and has crowded out most of the native blackberries. Also, these aggressive-growth blackberry bushes are thorny as all get-out, and almost always manage to reach out and snare you in a spiky embrace, whether you want one or not.

But to this gal raised in Texas, standing around eating berries off of the bush, whether it be on the side of the road, in a park, next to a parking lot, or on your parents' land (which necessitates sharing some of the hard-earned harvest), this is heaven. Really? Delicious berries everywhere? For free? Without watering them, pruning them, planting them, fertilizing them--nothing? Maybe that's why local folks don't seem to much value them--they don't have to be coaxed along into producing a harvest.

As politically incorrect as it may be, I am just over the moon about these berries. I even love that I must remain focused and present for harvesting each berry, or I end up with a thorn in my finger. It's like a zen practice: if your attention wanders for one moment--CRACK!--down the stick comes upon your hand. But if you keep your eyes, hand, and mind all on the same page, and doing the same thing at the same time, you are rewarded with a sweet, succulent fruit for your efforts. Good training for stalking the Divine.

For all the work of raising vegetables from seed, or caring for fruit trees, or harvesting wild invasive blackberries, I marvel at the opportunity to participate in nature's bounty. That wild blackberries exist at all is a miracle to me. That these plants cook up a fruit that is tasty, colorful, and edible, strikes me as so improbable that it breaks my heart wide open. That is, when I pause to notice.

The abundance of the harvest reminds me how little attention I ordinarily pay to the outpouring of Love in my midst. May I better remember with each wild blackberry I pick.

Comments

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The chard and tomatoes are looking -- and tasting -- pretty good today, too.

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As a West Texas gal, I totally understand your feelings in this blog about growing things, plenty of water and abundance. Love from Texas, Jupiter.

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Oh, I am almost crying! Our farmers market here in Austin seems to have one fruit at a time: figs for a couple of weeks, berries for a couple of weeks, a few melons, persimmons... I suppose there is more variety than I give this place credit for - but then again, it's coming from a radius of about 2 hours, which is a huge area! Not exactly all growing in Austin, free for the pickin'. Yeah, if the global transportation system collapsed tomorrow, we'd be pretty screwed around here. We could eat potatoes and carrots in the right seasons. And okra. Sigh. Oh - but I almost forgot to mention the monster GRUBS we found in our mulch pile last week! Hey, at least we'll be all set for protein. Check out the YouTube video of a guy eating the rhinoceros beetle larvae:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj9CysSSsps
We had about 45, all as big as the big one he finds! More protein than beef or fish, yippee! :-)

love you,
K

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Karin, your post really cracks me up because I had a dream last night that we were foraging for (you guessed it) grubs!

I found myself thinking in the dream, "Can we grow these guys?" since I am on such a sustainability kick. And there you are, a bona fide grub farmer! A step ahead, as ever.

We had a large animal who pushed and pulled on our garden fences 2 days ago, and upturned many of the cinder blocks that made a retaining wall at the base of the garden.

My friend Sharon thought it might be the work of a bear, looking for grubs. Thus, the grub dream. Can you tell I'm hoping its not a prophetic dream?

Lots of love, grubby and otherwise to you.

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No, I'm not talking about girls, I'm talking about baby chickens!
http://technabob.com/blog/2012/09/21/chicks-in-hats/