To the Editor:
I will say it upfront without apology. I like picking berries. I think about finding new places to pick berries. I bribe family members to join me in my foraging adventures. I have bags of frozen wild berries in my freezer. Some folks think I am a bit crazy!
Notwithstanding the question of my mental faculties, there are obvious benefits to picking native growing berries. In addition to the health advantages from the antioxidant-rich berries, exercise, and fresh air, I believe I have gleaned some lessons in the picking. These I will plan to share with my grandson on our next excursion! (See Lesson 6 for more on the art of conversation.)
Lesson One: Be on time: Individual varieties of wild berries are only ripe for a few weeks. They do not continue to ripen after picking, unlike other fruits. Therefore, take advantage of that small window of time. Carpe diem, may hay while the sun shines, and all that good stuff.
Lesson Two: Be wary of the easy way: Most berries come with thorns, buzzing bees, and the danger of poison ivy and tics. That is because they are worth it. Something that is too easy is usually either dangerous, a con, or not worth your time.
Lesson Three: Don’t rush life: Maturity matters. When ripe, the fruit removes itself easily from the plant. If not, don’t force it. There is a time for everything.
Lesson Four: Be kind: There are so many berries! Their very abundance should say something to you about sharing. Leave some for others. Sharing is good.
Lesson Five: Don’t give in to prejudice: Yes, you will find a few bad berries. Just because there are some the birds have picked at, or are rotten, smushed, or otherwise undesirable, does not mean they are all that way. Do not fixate on the bad ones; just move on.
Lesson Six: Foster quality communication: With berry picking you can multi-task! Yes, you can pick berries and have a wonderful conversation at the same time, without the aid of a screen.
Lesson Seven: Stop complaining: Berries have seeds. That is because they are meant to make more little berries. They do this without our help. The least we can do is eat the seeds and not complain. Be grateful for life’s seeds.
Lesson Eight: Be considerate: Take the berry, leave the plant. Be careful when picking. Try not to trample the plant and damage what nature has taken the time to produce. If you take care of it, there will be more next time.
Lesson Nine: Be humble: Realize that despite the internet, you do not know everything. Take time to wonder. How is it that the same sun produces raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberries, elderberries, and the many varieties of each? Being outdoors tends to cause one to wonder, and that is a good thing.
Lesson Ten: Be generous: We all have something to offer our fellow human beings. Gifts and talents are the fruit God puts there for others’ benefit, not ours. Let go of your fruit. They will be blessed, and in return so will you.