Brambles catch my clothing and prick my arms. My feet slide in my sandals, wet from the dew. As the bright sun strengthens, it warms my skin. The breeze from the St. Lawrence River is cool and smells sweet, in this scrubby patch of blackcaps, as these tiny wild blackberries are called locally. I gently squeeze each dark berry to judge its ripeness. Some cling stubbornly to the vine, while others detach quickly. The ripest berries are so soft they immediately lose shape in my now-indigo fingers.
I take three steps to my left and find a bush, laden with ripe berries, that are plump enough to be heavy on the drooping vine. Most go into my bucket as I force myself to focus on the plan for waffles, but at least one makes its way directly into my mouth, tart, sweet and herbaceous. As I taste my childhood, I reflect on my adult life as an anarchist, and realize that berry picking is a lesson in changing the world.
I take three steps to my left and find a bush, laden with ripe berries, that are plump enough to be heavy on the drooping vine. Most go into my bucket, as I force myself to focus on the plan for waffles, but at least one makes its way directly into my mouth, tart, sweet and herbaceous. As I taste my childhood, I reflect on my adult life as an anarchist, and realize that berry picking is a lesson in changing the world.
To find what is ripe and ready for picking, you have to hunt through tall grass and pick your way through prickly brambles. Sometimes, what you are seeking is out in the open, but other times hidden beneath a leaf, lying close to the ground, below your glance, or reaching for the sun in a place that seems just beyond your grasp.
In the seeking, your clothing will be torn, and your hands will be cut, but still, the environment and the rewards make the struggle more than worthwhile. If you pluck a berry too soon, it will be sour and useless. But, when your timing is impeccable, the rewards are sweet.
There may be a path to follow, for others have come before you, but often you must break new ground. On the trail, you will be tempted to stop, breathe the sweet air and absorb the beauty around you. This might feel like it slows you down, but observing and becoming one with the environment, both enhances your experience and ultimately makes your work more efficient. You must scan the landscape to look for details-- a certain color here, the shape of a leaf there-- careful observations will help you find what you seek.
With a map in your head, you may set off in a particular direction. Or, you may be seduced by the beauty of the landscape, into directionless wandering, sometimes in fruitless circles, frustrated if you don’t fine what you’re looking for. But there is great joy, when your instincts lead you unerringly to where you need to be. You may take your bucket and set off alone, and the rewards can be immense. But when the work is done in community, more is accomplished.
Later, sitting with friends around a breakfast table, laden with organic waffles, butter, maple syrup, whipped cream and bowls of berries, I realize that I like my revolution the same way I like my waffles — sweet, hard-won, with lots of coffee and friends.
By Clarissa Diane Rogers
Clarissa Diane Rogers, a member of Cape Vincent's Poet & Writers, Ink has a MA in Transformative Language Arts. She loves to support other writers, through editing, coaching and workshops. She believes that writing is a tool,for liberating our minds and healing our communities and can take us on a wacky adventure, full of joy and fun, even in a world that routinely breaks our hearts. You can reach Clarissa at: firstname.lastname@example.org