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Lessons from the Berry Patch

August 17, 2010

My name is Cynthia, and I have a black thumb.

If there were a 12-Step Program for failed gardeners, I would go there, stand before the group, and confess to my total inability to nurture plants. I can simply glance at a hanging pot of flowers and the leaves begin to wilt. But somehow, my little patch of raspberries and blackberries thrives every year, and along about mid-summer we’re rewarded with a few weeks of juicy ripe berries. The entire harvest comes to maybe 8 or 10 cups of berries, tops, but while they last we savor them.

Robert Fulghum may have learned everything he needed to know in Kindergarten, but I thank my berry patch for constantly reminding me of some of life’s most important lessons.

Be patient. Some days I can find only three or four ripe berries. I’m tempted to take the ones that aren’t quite ready yet, but when I tug on that light red raspberry, it resists my pull. (I’m not ready yet.. you know I’ll just fall into your hand when I’m really ripe.) I let go, and am rewarded the next day with dozens of perfectly ruby or black jewels.

Look at life from many perspectives. Many times I look at the bushes and think I’ve picked all the berries, but then I lean over and look at the same bush from the bottom… or turn around and simply look toward the house instead of toward the pond… and suddenly I can see a wealth of ripe berries that were invisible from my former point of view. I can miss so much that’s important, when I only look at things one way.

Take the good with the bad. On the one hand, I want to pick today’s berries. On the other hand, the mosquitoes like that bit of flat land down by the pond’s edge, too. Oh well. Organic raspberries are worth the price.

Be generous. Our harvest is so small that it’s hard to share, but the pleasure of a ripe berry is contagious. If the neighbors are out watering their flowers, or sunning in their yard, I’ll hold my colander full of berries out to them, and offer them a taste. “These came from your yard?” they say. “They’re so good.” The berries flourish in spite of me, not because of me, and yet I glow with pride.

Live in the moment. In just a few weeks, the berries are done for the year. While they last, it’s important to pick every day, and appreciate each berry individually. If there were more of them, or if they lasted longer, I’d miss this intense go-for-it-now feeling. It reminds me not to take for granted any of the good things in life, but to relish them while I have them.

– Cindy

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 10:38 pm

    I love your thoughtful considerations of the plants that share space with you. They most likely would tell you they enjoy the attention if they could.

    I have herb plants and we definitely have an active relationship. Watering them in the morning is very peaceful and theraputic.

    Jason

  2. August 23, 2010 5:47 pm

    Great post!! We love our golden raspberries. When we take our evening wander around the garden we always stop and check their progress and hopefully find a few to munch on. Last night, Connie actually got enough so that he could make our Sunday cocktails with them. He was a VERY happy camper about that. Kate

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