Small Things Add Up


Last year, we went picking wild blackberries and this morning we continued the tradition. Can it be called a tradition if it’s only the second year? Well, that’s what I’m calling it.

Have you ever picked wild berries? Let me tell you, they are about a quarter or a fifth the size of one you’d buy at the market. Tee-tiny little things, but oh my goodness, it’s basically summer in an old ice cream pail.

We walked down the path at Shelby Greenway, swingin’ our buckets at 7 o’clock in the morning, smiling at the sunny day dawning around us. The humidity was on the rise, just like the sun. No bugs to contend with, no rain yet, just a sweet day with the scent of honeysuckle, cut hay, and this dewy, earthy essence.

We walked a half mile, rounded a curve, and there they were. Brambles of berries, most of them still bright red and not ready for picking. As we moved along the path, things started to change. One, two, three, four berries. Plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk. Down into the bucket they went.

Wow, I thought, this is going to take a while.

For the next hour and a half, we walked along paths paved and unpaved with our rubber glove on the right hand, pail in the left, picking and plucking, pants leg tucked into socks (super sexy!) to avoid the redbugs and ticks, sleeves rolled all the way down, sweat dripping. The heat warmed up muscles. Birds were singing. I didn’t see them but I heard them all around in the trees.


I took notice after about half an hour when I had a nice layer on the bottom of the pail. Slow, steady work using nimble fingers to gently roll the ripened berries from their branches. So little they were, still I kept picking.

The cares of the world disappeared. I remembered how that felt last year when I realized it was probably the most relaxed I’d felt in years outside of working in the garden. As someone who meditates on a regular basis, it was still surprising to be wrapped up in this activity with a mind fully aware, awake, and at peace.

Last night, at midnight, I was reading chapter nine from a book by B. Allan Wallace called Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up. He wrote about meditative quiesence and stabilizing the mind. Quiesence was a new word to me. I imagine it has to do with quiet. I found it in the blackberry patch. Totally tuned in to the natural world, wide awake after only a few hours sleep, in search of deep purple blushing in the bushes. Yes!

Some of the berries only had four or five little berry sections. But after an hour and a half, we had about a gallon between us of tart, lush goodness.

It made me realize about how all the little things in life can add up if you just keep going, keep doing one thing and then the next and the next. Before you know it you have food for the winter, a sweet recollection, and tangible touchables from your effort.

I don’t know what you’re doing this day, but try a little berry picking. It’s good for the spirit.  Happy day!

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