Posts Tagged ‘Wendell Berry’

Battle with unconditioned breath the unconditioned air. Shun electric wire. Communicate slowly. Live a three-dimensional life; stay away from screens.
— Wendell Berry

The more I write about nature while sitting at a computer, the more ridiculous it feels to write about nature while sitting at a computer.  Especially in summer, the wild spaces beckon and it’s difficult to resist the call.   If one is to sing like the grasshopper in summer, the time to do it is now. 

The very ‘nature’ of nature calls one out to wild spaces.  We are three dimensional beings living in a three dimensional world.  This reality becomes clearer the more time we spend outdoors.  Virtual worlds pale in comparison. 

Taste a wild berry right off the vine and immediately all five senses are engaged.  Each fresh berry consumed outdoors seems to act as a magic potion that makes one forget the indoors, technology and all other commitments.  Sparkling waters, singing birds and buzzing bees have a similar enchanting effect.

Each new electric wire that’s erected by the power company seems more and more to desecrate the blue sky.   Do so few people complain about the altered view because they’re so busy keeping their heads down… texting… driving… living in virtual worlds?

I don’t have any answers.  Just more questions.

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It’s a busy morning in the marsh.  A sandpiper rushes across a stretch of sea-smoothed stones.  If only we could make such sweet piping sounds as we take off in flight to meet our deadlines, Mondays wouldn’t be so bad.

Crabs are sparring with one another just beneath the water’s surface.  The disagreement is over almost as quickly as it’s started, and they respectfully move to their territorial rocks.  Look at all those little fish.  Surely there’s enough for everyone to share.

Mergansers have already had breakfast and are determined to stay close and tight as they move quickly to their next destination.  There are only three young ones left in a brood that might have had eight or more to start with.  Things don’t always work out as planned, but it’s important to move forward and make the most of the day ahead.

A great blue heron wrestles with a long fish.  The bird twists its snake-like neck and turns its head upside down in order to get a better grip.  It could certainly teach us a thing or two on the value of being results-oriented.  Sensing that I am getting much too close for comfort, it takes off with its meal in flight.

The heron below also takes off as I draw near.  The sandpiper wading nearby doesn’t mind its ominous silhouette.  It knows that things usually aren’t as scary and threatening as they might appear at first.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ Wendell Berry

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wild blackberries

The blackberries that grow wild in my yard aren’t as perfectly formed as the genetically modified ones to be found at the grocery store, but they are tasty.  I let them grow where they will and over the years the number of brambles has increased along with the amount of fruit.

blackberriesNova Scotia is known for its abundance of berries.  Like other wild berries, blackberries are full of vitamins and minerals that make them an excellent food choice. For maximum nutritional value, they are best eaten raw, fresh off the vine.

For dessert, they can be piled raw into empty tart shells with fresh whipped cream.  Blackberries can also be enjoyed in pies, jams, pancakes and wines.  They are also delicious served simply with cream and sugar.  Their leaves can be made into a tea.

Berry bannock is an excellent native recipe that can be cooked in a pan over a campfire:

  • Mix 2 cups of flour with 3 tsps baking powder, 4 tbsps powdered milk and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Cut in 6 tbsps margarine, butter or shortening.
  • Ad 1 cup washed damp berries, mixing gently to coat fruit.
  • Add 1/3 cup water and work into a dough.
  • Shape into a 1 inch thick rounded cake, dust with flour and place into a warm, greased fry pan.
  • Cook over moderate heat until a crust forms on the bottom.
  • Turn over with spatula and cook until browned and no dough sticks into a fork inserted into centre of dough.

Often the birds manage to get to the blackberries before I have a chance to pick them.  The bramble shown below was picked clean by wild creatures who obviously didn’t believe in wasting anything.  I’ve found a nest of cedar waxwings in the yard in the past, placed not far from some blackberry brambles.

blackberry stems

The following quotation was used in the first post I wrote in this journal last October.  I’m reminded of it whenever I pick the blackberries growing in the yard.

I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.  Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.

~Wendell Berry

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I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.  Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.  ~Wendell Berry


Autumn winds have blown most of the leaves off the house vines.  Yesterday I removed most of the pink leaf stems that remain after the leaves have fallen.  All that’s left is the greyish brown vine itself.  Without the cover of leaves I can see how the vines have snuggled in between the bricks and under the edges of the siding.  It clings fast to the house.


The berries are also all picked or eaten by birds for the season.  There was a bumper crop of blackberries this year and the crabapple tree is as full as it’s ever been.  


Now that most of the leaves have dropped from the birch trees, we can easily see the nests created by birds earlier this year.  The ones we found yesterday in the front yard were probably robins’ nests, mud-lined cups of dried grass constructed at eye level.  There certainly were a large number of robins in the yard this summer.  We also found a couple of smaller nests at eye level in the dark section of woods near the  edge of the ditch.  Not sure yet what type of bird made these.

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