It’s June here in the San Francisco Bay Area and there’s a tropical feel to the air. We’ve gone from a cold late spring into an early June of weird steamy atmosphere. I’m a little peevish because I moved here decades ago partially to escape the “dripping wet under the armpits” humidity of East Coast summers. But, you know, there’s always a silver lining – the raspberry bushes are loving this weather! With two beehives tending to their pollination, lots of moisture and overcast sun, the bushes in our garden continue to be heavy with beautiful, bumpy purple fruit.
In early afternoon today, I decided I needed some centering before immersing my mind in the process of dissertation editing. So, I went out to play in the garden. I said hello to the new crop of half-inch worms in the worm box, added our kitchen scraps to the compost, shared some of the more delectable scraps with the chickens, scratched my cat Bitty’s belly, and then turned my full attention to berry-picking.
Fully ripe raspberries, ones that are almost all juice held together by a delicate skin, are just waiting to “plop”. Looking closely, you can see how gravity is pulling the juicy weight off the stem, loosening it for freefall. With my berry bucket’s ribbon around my neck, I have both hands free for berry-catching. I wade into the bushes carefully and gently move bright green leaves aside so I can catch sight of the sweet gems they hide. About every ninth berry goes straight into my mouth, providing an eye-closing moment of sheer delight. I pick berries with one palm underneath, encouraging them with my other hand to drop without squishing. As I’m pulled into the flow of wading-revealing-plopping, I flash on an early memory of my relationship to berries. I’m about 4 years old and strawberries give me a belly rash so when my sisters take me to the big wild strawberry field, I’m strictly told to Pick but not to Eat. I learn the secrets of berry-hunting from them but I cannot resist the sweet rewards! By the time we leave, my face, hands and t-shirt give evidence of my happiness and I walk home already scratching at my tummy. Smiling at how little I’ve changed in some ways, I finish filling my little bucket and head into the kitchen to store my harvest.
The deeper I go exploring into the nature of collaboration, the more I realize the importance of our recognizing our relationships to everything in our world. If we can see our own collaborative relationships in tending bees that nurture and feed from berry flowers that in turn “plop” fruit into our hands, we are more prepared to create and participate in the flow of human systems. We are in no way estranged from the world in which we live. We only need to open ourselves to the truth of our connection.
From me to you with joy, Nika