Verry Berry

September 2, 2009

My wife and I live on a very fertile island in Puget Sound, a kind of temperate zone jungle. Berries grow very well on our island.

We grow and pick quite a few kinds of berries. For example, we grow strawberries. Strawberries are very well behaved. They have no thorns and grow well. I can envision strawberries sitting in neat rows at church on Sunday.

We also grow boysenberries. Boysenberries are a California crop more than a Pacific Northwest crop. Growing boysenberries brings back memories of her youth in California to my wife. Her family didn’t grow them, but they went into the countryside to buy them.

They grow quite happily here in Washington. They seem vigorous, but they tend to be “sickly.” They also are rather thorny.

Two years ago, they produced a lot of fruit, but then the vines looked very sickly.

At the end of the season, my wife cut them back to the ground. This year they are growing well, but it takes two years for them to produce fruit, so they are just practicing this year with lush vines and no fruit. Boysenberries go to church, but their attendance is a little spotty.

We grow raspberries. Raspberries are a little rambunctious. They produce well, and have a few thorns. They go to church, but argue with other church members when they serve on church committees.

The pastor would just as well the raspberries would pass on joining the committees, but they always do. In our garden, little raspberries side sprouts are always popping up.

We grow blueberries. Blueberries sit quietly in the pews. They don’t stand out much, but the pastor knows he can depend on the blueberries.

We grew tayberries. Tayberries go an odd church on the outskirts of town. If they drop into your church, the pastor would be just as happy if they went back to their odd sect. Pete, a fine and long-time reader of my blog, sent me some bushes. My wife was very suspicious of them and wouldn’t let me plant them in the garden for a couple of years. After they grew in the garden for a while, my wife said, “I don’t like the berries very much. The roots are stealing nutrients from the currents and the potatoes. I want to get rid of them.”

I asked Pete’s permission. It seemed rude to me to dig up a gift plant by the roots. Pete, kindly and patient as always, said, “Sure. Good luck.”

At my wife’s request, I dug up the tayberries. However, they are difficult to eradicate. They will keep popping into the church from time to time, just to be difficult. The pastor may have to spray these congregants with Round Up.


We also pick berries that grow wild. For example, we pick salmon berries. Salmon berries taste rather bland. Salmon berries are kind of like slum children from the “working poor.” They are harmless, but there are always a lot of them wandering around on the streets and playing pickup football and baseball games. If they come to church, they are restless, and sit in the back.


Then there are the blackberries. There are two kinds of blackberries. The native blackberries are very small. They are hardly worth the trouble of trying to pick and eat.

 They native black berries send their children to school, and they don’t go to church very often, but they don’t cause much trouble.

The Himalayan Blackberries are troublemakers. They ride loud motorcycles or drive souped up cars with no mufflers and play their radios very loudly as they drive by. Himalayan Blackberries hang out in bars. When they bartender sees a Himalayan Blackberry come into the bar, he makes such his blackjack is handy under the counter and the phone is within easy reach so he can call the sheriff’s deputies in a hurry.


So far I’ve been mostly using feminine metaphors describing berries, and mostly describing them in terms of members of a church congregation. I’ve always had a weakness for mixed metaphors in my writing and my Himalayan Blackberry metaphors are hopelessly out of control, as are the vines and the berries themselves.


Blackberry vines are guys. The kind of guy who looks like Marlan Brando when he was young. The kind of guy who has no trouble attracting women.

If you marry a blackberry guy you will have to call the cops because he will beat you.


The berries themselves are girls, the kind of female known as “jail bait.” They look ripe and luscious before they are of legal age. They are surrounded by vicious stickers that will sting for a long time after they rip into your clothes and your arms as you try and pick them and even your legs as you try to get to them. The stickers are the brothers of the Himalayan girls, and they’re always looking for a fight to defend their sisters’ “honor.”

If you get a blackberry when it is really ripe–a period that last for about two days–they are incredibly sweet. A ripe blackberry comes off in your hand easily, and tastes delightful. After about two days, they start to dry up and they are not so good anymore.


Neither the blackberry guys nor the blackberry girls age very well (just as Marlan Brando did not age very well). You probably don’t want to marry a blackberry. It’s probably a good idea to wear protection, such as gloves, when you go out to pick blackberries. I picked a bowl of blackberries today. When I held up my hands to my wife, they were stained with juice, and they were stained with blood.


Good luck in getting a Himalayan Blackberry to go to church.