I arrive in Vermont in prime blackberry season. I don't know if the patches produce abundance like this every year, or if anyone else here cares to pick them, but I feel like I've hit the jackpot. I go out with my tupperware in the early morning to berry-pick, a kind of hunt.
I stand at the edge of the woods, where a blackberry runner invites me, waving a few glistening purple-black berries my way. I pick those. Plunk! they go in my tupperware. Then I see, deeper in the patch, a much bigger runner laden with scores more - bigger - berries. I climb in over fern and goldenrod to carefully strip them into my tupperware. Plunk, plunk. There I see, deeper in - an entire cache, a panorama of weighed, graceful arches of huge shamelessly shiny fruits, dozens of orb-eyes per berry: each a world, a camera lense I can see my reflection in. Slowly I work my way in; I thoroughly denude the scene. And there I see, low on the ground, barely visible in the undergrowth, stealth blackberries runners along the forest floor, with berries so big they can't be round - trembling, oblong monstrosities, queen bees of blackberries, fatly falling off the stem at the slightest touch.
It's no good to look for them. I stand there and I see something in my side-vision (then, how could I miss it?) which leads me deeper and deeper in.
How can one year and one edge of forest produce this many blackberries? Tupperware after tupperware, jars and jars of jam. But it's not free. The mosquitoes find me in my delicate maneuvers to reach the topmost branches. And the briars - cunning thorned tentacles, take their due in skin and blood; on every surface I'm raked, poked, pricked, stabbed. So I give this recompense, with sweat, thanks and praise pouring out of me. And lastly, I pay in risk, however slight. There is always the chance that someday, engrossed in my task, I will look up and see eyes looking at me. I will realize I am not the only berry-picker today. Maybe I've already been seen. This is exactly the currency I am most willing to pay.