Its late summer and the last of the blackberries are ripening on their armored canes. I see the black droops reflected in my daughter’s hazel eyes, the stain of the sweet juice around her mouth, and the delight in her face. We pick slowly and methodically, mostly avoiding the stick of the thorns, drop the fruit into our baskets and move on down the fence row. She holds the basket, nibbling away contentedly, while I harvest the fruit, staining my own hands deep purple.
I look down at my stained hands and feel the hot sun on the back of my neck. “The last vestiges of summer”, I think to myself. Pick, drop, eat, pick, drop, eat. Our bounty increases despite the near constant nibbling of the basket holder. She looks down at the ripened blackberries and says, “Let’s save these and make blackberry muffins for my birthday.” I ponder this for a moment, because her birthday is in January many months away and wonder whether we will be able to constrain our appetites long enough to save any. After returning to the house, we rinse the spider webs off the berries and put them into the freezer for a mid-winter treat, just as she suggested. I pause, gazing westward into the setting sun. It glimmers through the trees and I see for the first time that the berries too contain the sun’s glimmer. In their sweetness is preserved the essence of summer – the heat and intensity of our sun, and the warmth of the soil. And we keep a little bit of summer, in the freezer, which will last through autumn and on into the darkness of winter. In this way, we will thaw out on last bit of summer’s heat in the form of ripened blackberries and celebrate another full turning of our planet marked in the lines on our faces, the stains on our hands and in the ages of our daughters. I see summer’s light glimmering through it all.
Greetings and Salutation! In lieu of words, my own anyway, I will simply post some pictures from a recent backpacking trip in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and quotes from John Muir. I hope you enjoy and please get out into the mountains, deserts or some wild place and away from this computer!
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
~John Muir (in a letter to his sister)
…the blessing of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life or short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.
~ John Muir “My First Summer in the Sierra”
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
~ John Muir (“Our National Parks”)