Near but Far: A Berry Beautiful Forest Outing (Part 2)

We spent the next day exploring an old trail, largely erased by the doings of an old massive fire, downfall and sprawling understory. In doing so, our legs and ankles, and eventually hands and fingers couldn’t escape the thorny understory of wild raspberries and thorny locust. Wild gooseberries/currants, elderberries and thimble berries were also in abundance.

We walked, then picked. Picked, then walked. And picked as we walked. At one point looking about, it seemed nearly every hillside in every direction was covered with berries of some kind. The day carried on with more exploring. The air was chilling but in a very pleasant way. That evening we found a nice spot amongst a stand of Ponderosas after a rather saturating late afternoon rainstorm. Dissipating clouds revealed the setting sun in which we basked taking in it’s last light giving warmth. Afterwards we pondered near the fire as the cool night’s air filled the mountains. 

The next day we explored a lively creek where wild hops draped it’s healthy banks. I imagined all the ways in which I could make use of the variety of plant life for food, as an impressive list in my mind continued of the available wild edibles I counted in the area. 

That night, we camped again in a verdin embrace over looking vastness which can only barely be seen through the thick forest. We were amongst wild raspberries. Zig-Zagging from patch to patch, picking the small and delicate ruby gems. It seemed it would be impossible to over-harvest as these sticky patches expanded throughout, beyond and below. Picking berries brings one to understand and inevitable engage in patience. In fact, it requires much patience and gentleness.

The best of berries are those which are barely hanging on. Just a tap or brush against a branch would drop ripe berries to the ground. When plucking by hand, one much take a lot of care not to crumble the aggregate jewels upon themselves. Just a slight touch, barely a tug, is all that is necessary. When one becomes too hasty with greed, raspberry and blackberry plants will take their revenge if you fail to heed their prickly warnings. The greedy hand experiences biting pricks and scratches, and the only way to avoid such rebellion is to resort back to patient, gentle and grateful picking. At times I fell fully into the present, picking became meditative at times. As I plucked I felt soothed by the peaceful surrounding forest.

We picked a slew of berries which we added to our morning oatmeal. I wondered humbly about happy bears during berry season, finding multiple piles of seed-filled bear scat, happy knowing just how giving this forest was. And for the time being, I was happy to be home.

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