They looked magnificent and undoubtedly, the early Spring was responsible for the bumper crop of tart, juicy blackberries. Like I do every Summer, I donned old Levi’s, a long sleeved shirt, socks and shoes and headed into the woods on our property–bucket in tow.
One by one, the bucket began to fill with the shiny berries, leaving their wine colored stain upon my fingertips. As beads of perspiration began forming on my brow, the mosquitoes suddenly realized they had company. From miles around, they sought me out–biting through my clothes, piercing my wrists, attacking my fingertips, ears and neck.
Yes, I did forget the bug spray.
Not to be dissuaded by a few pesky bugs, I scratched a little and foraged further into the woods, filling the bucket another couple of inches.
Soon a buzzing sound taunted my solitude and as I swatted, the corner of my eye spied yellow jackets and horseflies. If I don’t bother them, they won’t bother me, I rationalized.
I used the time as a prayer–thanking God for his bounty, praising Him for his grace and mercy on us the past six difficult years. The perfect berries, many of them twisted among thorns that scratched my hands as I picked, reminded me of these days of intense trial. We have bled, we’ve struggled, but there, like the free berries, was God’s sweet gift–we only had to look for the treasure.
Pushing through brush, thorns, and poison ivy (I am not allergic), it was apparent that the best berries were in the thickest portion of the woods–darker, damper and less tortured by the relentless sun. The bucket was nearly full and as I swatted away a few spiders that were crawling up my legs and arms, I stepped down and immediately the piercing pain stopped me in my tracks. Setting the bowl down, I lifted my foot and yanked a rusty nail from the base of my shoe–blood soaking my sock, and I knew I was done.
Hobbling home, the searing pain and wet sock made the one acre walk seem like five miles, but I made it without spilling a single berry.
After a shower, some first aid on my already swollen foot, the berries were rinsed and ready for jam making–but perhaps that will be done tomorrow, as I guess God’s message for me today is to elevate my foot and rest.
A good lesson for me though, never walk into the woods and pick berries wearing Crocs–from now on, hiking shoes are in order. Despite the injury, I am every grateful for the gift of the fruit.