The blackberries came early this year, did you notice?
Even as much as 3 weeks ago, barely into August, the fruit began to ripen in the hedgerows. It delighted me to see them, but it also saddened me, too. A simple, yet poignant reminder that nature was out of kilter. A sign that autumn may no longer include the pleasure of an afternoon spent scrambling through brambles and nettles in search of juicy rewards.
I, for one, revere such seasonal joys found here in Britain. At this time of year, if we have to give up our long, warm, light summer evenings, then it feels like a fair exchange to experience the pleasure of gathering up this wild fruit and storing it as a vitamin source for the dark months to come.
The summer has been glorious. Spent making the most of the sunshine whilst avoiding the crowds on quieter beaches down by the coast. Shallow coves that few know about, corners of the land that others forgot. It’s now September and whilst it still feels like summer, there’s a chill in the evening air and as you see, my thoughts are turning to the changing of the season. This morning I decide to get up early and head out in search of blackberries. I wonder as I head out, are there any left?
As I cycle down a small track in the hope of spotting brambles, I pass upon an old man out for his early morning walk. I could have easily passed him by, put my head down and kept going. But I slowed down and stopped to say hello, exchanging pleasantries and delight at the warm days we were still experiencing. We both agreed iit felt like borrowed time. The talk turned to my morning task. I had no idea where I could find the bounty I searched, yet in an instant he offered the information I needed.
“There’s tons of blackberries down Mill Lane!’ he exclaimed.
Just around the corner. I thanked him and we each went on our way.
And there were. Plenty. The hedgerows were thick with them. Information freely given by the old man that could have taken me hours of searching for myself. Offered simply, in that chance encounter. I felt lucky. Grateful to the old man, yet he would never know.
I began picking. And after 5 minutes I decided it was time to move on. After all, I’d already got quite a bounty from the first bush. Yet something stopped me. Why move on when there could be more where I was? It was a bad habit of mine; the thought that there may be something better on offer. So instead of moving on, I purposefully stayed. I persevered. It was a lesson in learning to stay put, looking harder and paying better attention. These were all good lessons I knew I needed, and it was the blackberry hunt that was teaching me!
I decided to further advantage of my morning classroom and try my luck at something else. Whilst staying put and persevering where I was, it may sound strange to you, but in that early morning light I decided to say hello to my blackberry bush and thank it for offering up its fruit. I asked it to show me where the best berries were; the good, juicy ones that were hiding from my view. And if seemed to me that it answered. The hedgerow yielded up more and more to my gentle request. And an hour later, with a pot bursting with ripe fruit, I felt overjoyed.
You may laugh that I spoke to a plant? Yet you found it not so odd that I spoke to the old man? Yet I was convinced that both responded to me. One silently, the other through speech. And in this short morning excursion I learnt 3 powerful lessons which I wanted to share with you
Lesson 1 – Connection with others
Despite being more connected than ever before, we live in an increasingly disconnected world. Don’t put your head down and pass on by. Talk to a stranger. Find an unexpected connection with another and discover the treasure to be found in this exchange.
Lesson 2 – Staying put
Don’t be too quick to move on to the next thing. Stop for a moment and look again at the task in hand, or the problem you need to solve. Pay better attention and you may be surprised to find that what you’re looking for is actually right in front of you after all.
Lesson 3 – Connection with nature
When we remember to connect with nature, it brings joy and a sense of deep peace and belonging. After all, we’re just variations of complex cells, each making up different species – man, animal, plant. Yet unless we’re involved with science or nature, we all seem to have forgotten this. We find it funny, even the suggestion of it, that we’re all connected. We’ve lost touch and have become the opposite – disconnected with ourselves, with nature and with others. So instead, try connecting back with nature. So much is now being written about the powerful effects that being in nature can have on us and to encourage us to reconnect. Forest bathing and using nature to aid stress in the business world is big news in countries like Japan where suicide is common and people have forgotten who they are. Don’t be one of them. Put aside your judgement and each out to a plant, a bee or a bird and connect with it. You’ve nothing to lose other than your initial resistance and pride, and you’ve everything to gain.
Forest Bathing for stress relief https://qz.com/1208959/japanese-forest-medicine-is-the-art-of-using-nature-to-heal-yourself-wherever-you-are/
New Scientist Magazine – Slimmer, Fitter, Less Stressed. How a positive mindset can create a healthier body – https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23931920-600-how-a-positive-mind-really-can-create-a-healthier-body/ (although please note you will have to subscribe to read the full article).