Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

email print
Guest Editorial: 02/15/2018

Stop and pick the blackberries

By Jack Riggs

I was driving slowly up Pythian Road toward Hood Mountain Regional Park one foggy morning at 6:30 a.m. when I saw this older man on the side of the road. He looked around 65 or 70 years old, dressed in faded black jeans, a mustard-colored hooded sweatshirt, and a black ball-cap. He was holding a colander in his left hand and picking blackberries with his right. I wondered why he was here.

Oh, wait a minute, thatís me.

Sometimes, in a moment of distraction, I do wonder what people are thinking when they drive by me on their way to work and see me picking blackberries on a weekday morning. I know I would. Is he in need of money and canít afford to buy blackberries at the store? Is he hungry and doesnít have enough food at his house? Is he going to make some jam or jelly? Or does he just like doing something different and unique every once in a while Ė so that the mundane routines in his life can be broken up by something a little bit different? Or, damn, Iím a little jealous, I wish I had the leisure time to do that.

I have also stopped to think about what Iíve learned from picking blackberries. Some of it is philosophical, I guess, some meditative, and some just plain common sense.

For example, sometimes itís not very prudent to extend yourself beyond your reach, but occasionally you need to try.

A berry in the hand is worth two or more that are unreachable.

Watch where you step; itís imperative to have your feet planted firmly before you extend your arms away from your body.

The thorns donít care who or what they prick, and this variety of blackberry is always surrounded by thorns.

Therefore, itís necessary to take your time and enjoy your picking.

Sometimes, the reward of the fruit requires getting stuck by the thorns.

The thorns stick the good and bad alike.

Not all the fruit matures at the same rate, so you can come back another day. But, donít wait too long Ė unpicked, ripe fruit dries up and withers away.

Not all the good fruit hangs from the same vine.

Itís best to choose your berries wisely. Generally, the ďmatureĒ ones are not bitter.

Knowing which berry to choose doesnít guarantee you will be able to attain it, but that doesnít mean you shouldnít keep trying. Maybe on another day.

Picking more fruit may require moving on to another location.

Knowledge is sometimes gained by making mistakes from previous choices.

Life is full of berries surrounded by thorns, so thoughtful caution is always preferable to aggressive action.

When the colander is full, itís time to go home.

Most of the time, itís better not to wonder about what other people are thinking about you, but focus on what you are thinking and doing.

Sometimes itís better to have tried and failed, than never have tried to succeed.

Life is full of ways to spend your leisure time. Make sure you enjoy it and it is beneficial in some way.

Itís good to do something ďdifferentĒ that is not self-focused, and to do it with someone you love. And sometimes you just need to go out and pick some berries by yourself.

Jack Riggs live in Oakmont.

Readers may submit articles of approximately 800 words to the Guest Editor column. Email Although we intend to print all submissions, we do reserve the right to refuse to publish any article.

Recently Published:

02/01/2018 - Supervisors should reinstate vacation rental moratorium
12/15/2017 - HomeÖ at last
11/15/2017 - Animal rescuer tells what it was like behind the lines
06/01/2017 - Transit Occupancy Tax revenue can help fix our roads
04/15/2017 - Country road lament
04/15/2017 - After 144 years, we are now the Bennett Valley Guild
03/01/2017 - Oakmontís fiscal situation Ė setting the record straight
02/15/2017 - Highway 37 improvements are necessary and costly
02/15/2017 - Restore fiscal responsibility, vote for ďWe Are All OakmontĒ
01/15/2017 - Worth Our Weight (in gold!)
12/01/2016 - Donít allow commercial or cottage cannabis cultivation in rural residential areas
09/01/2016 - 60 days in Kenwood
04/15/2016 - Spring Fawn? Leave it alone!
04/01/2016 - Does closing developmental centers mean the end of choice in the Department of Developmental Service
04/01/2016 - Vet Connect makes a connection

Community Calendar

Volunteer training for Jack London and Sugarloaf parks
Santa Rosa Youth Symphony groups return to Oakmont
Oakmont Sunday Symposium
Sonoma Speaker Series features journalist Keller
OVA, Golf Club Town Hall
The right to privacy topic at SIR #53
Hiking for Fitness series starts
Fawn Rescue Benefit Luncheon
Free kids hike to ancient redwood
Sonoma County Trails Council work day
Healthy Parks, Healthy People Hike