Thursday 26 July 2012


Every year we pick berries for the winter.
Normally, it's strawberries.
The organic strawberries didn't do well this year, so we banked on a bumper crop of blackberries.
In the last few years, the blackberry bushes have produced abundantly,
and it looked like this season would be no different.

There are plenty of blackberries around our home.
Easy to find and pick, we wouldn't need to go far for fruit.
But the recent drought has been too much for the plants to handle.
We watched in dismay as the plants withered and the newly formed berries shriveled up.
And though we did not plant this crop, we were counting on it all the same.

Being able to eat berries throughout the winter is a staple that we have become accustomed to.
The blackberries had given us hope when the strawberries failed.
Now that hope seemed dashed.

Being a wild crop, there are blackberries in places other than close to home.
Even though the berries here ran out of water,
there should be other places that held enough moisture to keep the fruit succulent.
I felt it would be best if I scouted out the woods in search of survivors.
At first, healthy berries were to be found, but were sparse.
A little further in, things looked promising and large clusters of plants, nursed by natural wetland, persist in good numbers.
I didn't check the best places for fear of finding them too dry,
but there may be enough out there to make up for the losses around the house.

I suspect that there is much less topsoil where our home is situated.
And though there is a natural spring running through the yard,
there isn't much storage capacity should the spring dry up as it has.
In the forest, where there are both springs and soil, the plants have fared much better through the drought.
The drawback is that the blackberries are spread out,
and the overgrowth of brambles makes for some nasty picking.
I mean, getting bloodied kind of picking.

So the land will support us.
Our faith in the blackberry crop will not leave us hungry.
Though there will be blood shed to pay homage to the great resilience of the blackberry canes.
Among the brambles are also some raspberries and thimbleberries.
The harvest baskets will be coloured purple and red.
Picking won't be a calm and relaxed family activity such as we had imagined for this year.
But there will be fruit for the winter all the same.

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