Things I've Learned from Picking Black Raspberries.

I live in my grandparents old home, and the seasonal picking of black raspberries has been a tradition since I was a little boy. I've always loved the unique taste of the black raspberry. To be clear, they aren't blackberries and don't taste anything like red raspberries. We tend to bake them into cobblers or pies, but they are good on ice cream.
  1. An Appreciation that Good Things Come and Go
    Here in Indiana, there are specific seasonal foods that can only be had at certain times of year. Yes, even here, we can buy out of season foods, but they don't quite taste as good. While blueberries, blackberries, red raspberries, and strawberries can be found all year, black raspberries are usually found wild. You have to go into the woods and pick them yourselves, and they are gone after a few weeks. Because of that, I appreciate them while I have them and look forward to them coming again.
  2. Patience
    Black raspberries grow in thick, thorny shrub, and you will be scratched, bitten by mosquitos, and suffer the hot and humid weather of late June in Indiana. You will have to lean into and reach through spiked shrub determined to make you pay a price for every delicious berry. You often stand in one place for long periods of time, carefully removing the soft berries. Berries that are ripe will come away easily. Berries that are not ripe resist, and you will have to return for them another day.
  3. Concentration
    Black Raspberries often grow on hillsides and among thick vegetation. Standing precariously on steeply sloped ground and on damp ground while reaching out to pick berries just at the edge of your reach can lead to disaster. I have tumbled through thick, thorny brush while spilling a full container of berries, representing a couple hours of picking, a few times. I don't use gloves, because sometimes you have to reach in the thick brush and use touch as much as sight. Delicate touch is essential.
  4. Creative Perspective
    Black Raspberries can be in front of you, above you or at your feet. Many times I will think I've picked every berry in an area and retrace my steps to find previously hidden berries suddenly visible. Picking one berry will cause a stalk to rise revealing several more. Pulling one branch aside will reveal a treasure trove. You need to learn a three dimensional way of seeing the plant life around you to understand that there is always more than is revealed at first glance and leave fewer behind.
  5. Tradition and Sharing
    As a little boy, it was a tradition for grandpa and I to pick berries for my grandma to make into a cobbler or pie to share with the whole family. For over a decade now, I have gathered my best friends to share the berry harvest in delicious pies with ice cream. The scratches, insect bites, itching, and sweat are with it to give the people I love a special treat and tradition that they look forward to and enjoy each year. Seasonal traditions are important to me, and berry season is my favorite.