Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Manual dexterity applied to berry picking

Wild blackberries grow on thorny plants, so they're challenging to pick. Until I decided it was only fair to meet the berries without weapons, I used to bring a leather glove and pair of pruners. The other day, when I finally got round to going, I had only my berry pail and a water bottle to rinse the berry juice off my hands.

It's been a good year for wild blackberries: the June rain made them plump and the sun and heat of the past two months have made them sweet as ambrosia. As I gingerly pulled back a branch to gather some berries that were hiding behind it, I remembered something good that happened to me in Grade 4. (On the whole, fourth grade was not my stellar year: I was trying to adapt to life in a new province, my teacher was not nice, and I failed handwriting.)

My triumph occurred on sports day. I was no good at sports, but one contest involved taking clothes pins off a line with one hand and keeping hold of them. The person who ended up with the largest handful was the winner. I won hands down -- or should I say hands full? While the other kids pottered away with three or four, I captured and held seven.

Manual dexterity is a skill I still have, and it stands me in good stead in the berry patch. Using one hand to hold back the thorny branches the plump berries hide behind, I use the other to pull them gently off the stem one by one.

I got a good haul the other day, picking that way. Didn't squash a single one.

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