The ethics of berry picking
Nevertheless, it was still the same trial and character-building exercise to gather them in with patience and methodical endurance.
Would it be too cliché to start naming off all the lessons to be learned from picking blackberries? Perhaps...I mean, they certainly abound:
First there are obviously the thorns, which seem to make it a matter of pride among them to see who gets first blood! Yes, I'm assigning to them a metaphorical will of their own because, since they exist because of the curse, I think I might as well give them their rightful due. The lesson? Nothing other then a reminder of our cursed state I'm sure...
Preparation... Well, I knew I would probably pay for it but I went in shorts, sandals and a cut-off shirt. Hey, it was hot. I thought I would make up for it by bringing the clippers. I did, sort of but there are some things that just won't work no matter how much you try to clip away. Without a nice layer of clothing to take the brunt of the laceration, you are in trouble. Preparation? Well, maybe I'll just bring clippers next time.
What of patience--another obvious one perhaps? When it seems like everything is working against your goal of snagging one berry that's way out of reach--the sun baking your face and neck, the thorns just about everywhere sticking in your arms, legs and toes, your arms beginning to feel like lead from the continual horizontal position--yeah, there's a lot to be said for keeping your cool when the one berry you sweated, bled and ached for slips from your fingers and drops down into the thicket.
What about the ethics of method? Oh, I've got you stumped on this one.
As you stand there alternately picking and clipping, it's noteworthy that there are several kinds of branches in the bushes. One has plenty of little clusters of the coveted berries dangling from the ends. The others seem to be there for one purpose and one purpose alone (not scientifically proven mind you): to block both your view and your arms from reaching the first type of branch. These are free game. One snip and you are that much closer to the target. But what happens when you face only branches of the first kind, albeit loaded with only blossoms and unripe clusters, arching into your path, immovable except by cutting.
Suddenly you have an ethical decision to make: do you pass over them, limiting your ability to reach fully ripened clusters, but letting these undeveloped clusters in your way live and reach their full potential, OR, do you take them down along with the other useless guardian branches blocking your way to tomorrow's blackberry pie and next week's blackberry jam--cutting them down for the sake of what you can enjoy now?
I must confess I didn't take too much time thinking about it and I think I only snipped one such branch in a moment of desperation. I did mention it to Anna but she was already of the opinion that I was suffering from some heat-related delusion based on all the muttering and sighing coming from where I was picking. It was a little late for me to expect a serious answer to my random questions.
But, what do you think? I'll tell you what I think after I get a couple opinions.