The blackberry season is in full swing. I picked an entire bucket of berries this morning in about 15 minutes. I'll have a hard time keeping up with them over the next week or two.
The berries grow in a wild tangled hedge. The tops of some of the vines are 10 to 12 feet above the ground. Many I will not be able to pick. I have employed a metal pole with an angle bar on the end to aid me in accessing some of the berries that are out of my grasp. But the topmost berries elude my reach even with the aid of the metal pole. The birds will have those.
As for me I will have frozen berries for jam and snacks for a good part of the winter barring a loss of refrigeration.
Blackberries and Blue Skies
Blackberries and blue skies
briefly fill the gap
between the gales of October
and the grey rain of winter
making them welcome summer
I wish would never leave.
The video includes the poem along with the visual images. Enjoy.
This is the first year I've taken to drinking coffee in the afternoon. Up until this year a pot of coffee in the morning was all I needed to be good to go for the entire day.
I wrote this poem after having coffee in the afternoon and thinking of my how my father would take a break in the mid afternoon and get a cup of Joe and a piece of pie at Hunter's Diner, or any nearby diner if he was working out of town.
Blues For An Old Man
This year I became an old man
taking to coffee in the afternoon
and falling asleep
the branches of the cherry tree
until summer breezes tickle
me and I wake
under unbroken blue to the
edges of the sky with hours of daylight left.
Some people want to leave the children homeless and in peril saying we, the most prosperous nation on earth, can't afford it and they will grow up to be criminals and a burden on society.
Some people see the homeless children in need and respond compassionately with open arms saying "let the children come."
I'm flabbergasted that anyone would turn helpless human beings away. Is this attitude the result of Americans imbibing the philosophy of Ayn Rand? Ms. Rand would definitely walk over their corpses and dispassionately allow them to starve and suffer instead of offering a helping hand. Don't believe me. Listen to how she regards human need and compassion from her own lips on national television in an interview with Mike Wallace. She's gone to her final reward, but her disciples live on in the halls of congress and perhaps next door to you.
So which side are you on? How easy does the answer come from your heart to your lips?
I picked blackberries again this morning. I did not get quite as many as I did yesterday. I like to collect them in an old fryer basket. The large spaces retain the berries and allow them to be rinsed easily and flush out debris and bugs which may be accompanying the fruit.
I began picking around 10 in the morning. I didn't find as many as I found yesterday. But with a little effort I was able to almost fill the basket. I'm fairly sure more will ripen during the afternoon. I have stashed away slightly less than one gallon of frozen berries so far. I hope to multiply that amount several times so I will have berries in the winter. When they are frozen they are hard and remind me of those Christmas candies I had as a child that looked like berries. You probably remember them too and how when you crunched them there was a sweet filling inside. Today I decided to wear a long sleeved jacket while picking. The jacket enabled me to avoid being sliced by the thorns. The thorns are sharp. The jacket also enabled me to press further into the center of the bush and grasp the berries which would otherwise not be picked and eaten. Not by humans anyhow. This is what I've noticed, when it looks like you have gotten 'all' the berries look again. Go back over the same place at least twice. I added a full third of a basket to what I thought was all I would find by doing that. Even though wearing the jacket enabled me to reach more berries I had the thought that I would make a stick with a hook on the end to pull the furthest berry branches close enough to pick. The berry patch is a wild one. No one planted these berries. The good Lord saw to it that they began growing here. As a result the berry patch is an incoherent tangle of branches, leaves, thorns and of course berries often dappled in sunlight filtering down from above.
The fruit in the depths of the bush is often the sweetest. I think this is because no one has gotten close enough to pick them before they were fully ripe. So finding a way to get them without needing bandages when the task is complete is helpful and a stick or board with a hook or nail on it will be a simple berry picking aid. At least in theory.
To the right is another view of the berries picked this morning. I had some for breakfast with a banana and whole wheat toast with peanut butter. Below are the berries I've picked and frozen in the last two days. As you can see I have managed to pretty much fill a gallon sized freezer bag. I've dated it and they will be there when the cold rain starts to fall. Hopefully there will not be a power outage that lasts too awful long. Que sera sera and that's how you have to take life as well as the prospect of berries.
Blackberry season is taking off. Today I filled my container in less than a half an hour. The way things are going berry picking will be more like work than fun in a few days. I'll have a hard time keeping up with them. But I enjoy the work.
I'm developing my skills on avoiding lacerations and how to get to the ones secluding themselves in the center of the bush. I'm determined to let as few go unpicked as possible. I wonder if the thorns on the vines are some kind of test from God to see if I really really want his berries. I do God and thanks for the berries! The thorns are a good idea.
Along with the benefits of only requiring a little of my time and getting outside in the fresh air and sun, (today it was raining slightly) these beauties are not sprayed with some dangerous chemical made by you know who.
You can see how many I picked today in the photographs below. If I were to buy these suckers in the store or along the road it would mean I had a job and a good paying one at that. I got these at my favorite price. FREE!!!
Berries Berries Berries
Berry picking is easy once
you get the knack.
The fat juicy black ones are deep in the bush
hidden by shadows, in the back. .
Getting to them is easy.
tramping down the vines in
and lean in,
extend your hand as far as
In time you will learn how to
avoid the thorns
and keep from falling into
the bush face first.
Until then be very careful.
Never wear shorts
and never pick berries by
it's just not worth it.
(Note. This version of the poem is slightly different from the one in the video. I keep changing things and a poem is never done. Never.)
I made a video with the poem being recited. You can see the video and hear the poem read below
"white only" "colored only" signs in places of business in
the nations capitol.
through years of assassinations of people who wanted to be treated like people
but were not.
watched Bull Connors men and his dogs enforce the laws of segregation.
told how nice it is that is all history and we are no longer a racist society and
seeing how it turned out to be a lie…
high tech workplaces are actively avoiding hiring people of color. Many of the
same old worn out excuses are retrofitted into the present to justify
discrimination and the holding down of an entire segment of the U.S.
Tell Twitter: Disclose your diversity data
After years of pressure, Silicon Valley companies have finally started releasing their employee diversity numbers, but Twitter still hasn’t done so.
The numbers aren’t good. Black men and women make up less than 3% of companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. (1)
Google has acknowledged that it’s “miles” from where it wants to be, and “that being totally clear about the extent of the problem is a really important part of the solution.” (2) Yahoo, LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay, Pandora and Apple have or indicated they will release their workforce data. Intel, Cisco, and HP have done so for years.
As an industry leader, Twitter must follow suit.
Tell Twitter: Release your employee diversity numbers immediately and signal your commitment to real inclusion by hosting a forum on race in Silicon Valley.
While disclosure is a necessary first step, it by itself isn’t enough. That’s why we’re also calling on Twitter to work with ColorOfChange and our allies to host a forum discussion about lack of racial diversity in Silicon Valley, and commit to concrete steps to tackle this problem.
Led by Reverend Jesse Jackson, our friends at the Rainbow Push Coalition have been doing tremendous work elevating this issue. ColorOfChange is teaming up with them on this campaign. Reverend Jackson spoke at Hewlett-Packard’s shareholder meeting in March, saying:
"At its best, Silicon Valley can be a tremendously positive change agent for the world; at its worst, it can hold on to old patterns that exclude people of color and women from opportunity and advancement. Silicon Valley and the tech industry must transform itself to mirror the America it depends upon for talent and customers.” (3)
We couldn’t agree more. Demand that Twitter disclose and host a forum on diversity and inclusion.
Twitter has made the world a more connected and transparent place. There’s tremendous value in shining a spotlight onto issues that very few people are paying attention to, as Black folks on Twitter do everyday — trending hashtags and shaping the national conversation.
Black Twitter brought the Trayvon Martin case to public attention when almost no one was talking about it. It forced the cancellation of a book deal for a juror in the George Zimmerman trial. And using satire, Black Twitter caused the cancellation of celebrity chef Paula Deen’s endorsement deals after she admitted to used the N-word. (4)
Black folks on Twitter are a powerful group, using the platform not only to share news and discuss pop culture, but to create real change in society.
Twitter must live up to its platform’s transparency and join other industry leaders in voluntarily disclosing employee demographic data, sending a bright signal that inclusion and diversity are real priorities for the company.
Twitter's user base is racially diverse, and has nearly twice the rate of Black users compared to the Internet writ large. And the company uses this fact to attract advertisers. (5)But the unfortunate reality is that Twitter, like much of the industry, probably doesn't reflect its users. This is what we need to know.
If Black people are engines of profit for Twitter, they must also be a representative part of the company and its leadership. Currently not a single Black person serves on the board or on the executive team. And this is unacceptable.
The American tech industry is known for moving nimbly and disrupting old ways of doing things so that we can be better, more efficient as a society. It must also move quickly to disrupt the status quo of exclusion, toward a model of true inclusion at every level.
Blackberry season is beginning. The first few have made their way from vine to mouth. A few drops of blood are a slight price to pay for tasting blackberries today. And if you go berry picking you will bleed.
In a few days I will be filling buckets with the purplish black fruit whose juice stains hands and clothing a rich purple.
July: The Berry Picker
July is the month for
the solitary berry picker is diligent;
the berries have come in flushes
one after the other
and he has gotten most of
Becoming lost in thought
his fingers turn purple,
he thinks of fingers stained
and berries picked in summers
The berry picker has entered
that no man’s land
where today and yesterday co-mingle.
Returning home he finds no
and all at once he remembers and cries.
(The above poem was written a decade or more ago. I worked on it some.)
Blackberry blossoms are the promises of blackberries.
Blackberries ripe and more to ripen making July the time to fill the mouth and the freezer. Will they be jam, will they be wine? Will they be both?