Purple Stain

There are many paths to mindfulness. The one I’ve chosen happens to be a literal path, a former railroad easement called the Huckleberry Trail.

I’m not a purist, though, and I’ll occasionally incorporate one of the other methods into my daily dog-walking kinhin practice. Like, say… a mantra. A word or phrase or sound, chanted aloud or silently, to aid in focusing the mind, such as “Om…. Om….”

Wait — make that, “Dewberries…. dewberries…. dewberries… nom, nom, nom…”

No disrespect to the solstice but, for me, it’s not summer until I can pop a plump dewberry straight off the vine onto my tongue and allow all of existence to collapse into a dense sweet-tart burst of red-violet juicy-ness. Dash shares my fondness for this treat and because I tithe a generous portion of fruit to him, he’s patient when I detour to a ripe-for-the-pickin’ spot.

The Huckleberry Trail is aptly named I’m sure, but based on the number of common dewberry tangles I see each day, the naming committee could have easily and justifiably gone another way.

Harvesting dewberries requires its own kind of mindfulness: I need to be mindful of poison ivy mixed in with the other underbrush plants; I need to be mindful of thorns and transparent bristles waiting to grab cloth and skin as I reach in to pluck that single  nugget from a still-crimson cluster; I need to be mindful of spider webs and their tenants; I need to be mindful that while this is a treat for Dash and me, it’s sustenance for many wild creatures.

Keeping those songbirds, mice, rats, voles, chipmunks, box turtles, opossums, raccoons, skunks, and other hungry folk in mind, we limit ourselves to a dozen or fewer dewberries per day (ok, I’m the one who sets a limit; Dash’s mantra is “to the winner goes the spoils”). It takes discipline but there’ll be more than enough again tomorrow to stain my fingers and tongue purple and allow the terrier-boy to feel victorious.

What says “summer” to you like nothing else? The smell of a fresh-cut lawn? Fireflies? Share your favorites in the comments below!

[Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: Paul Sullivan and Jim Something.]

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