Blackberry Ramble/Gentle Spy

My idea of rambling is to take a short walk and observe whatever comes along. Whether walking around the neighborhood, hill climbing, or fly-fishing, my rambles generally occur near home and offer an opportunity to learn something new about my place in nature and to share it with others. Generally speaking, my rambles fall short of wilderness but I use them to reinforce the sense of our immersion in the wild.DSCN1093

In my view, rambling means participation with the elements of my surroundings, to unearth a few links to the larger realms beyond. I look for the spirit of a place, no matter the locale.

Blackberries may have been the inspiration for a recent walk, but this is hardly a post about pastoral berry picking. In fact, I ventured out along the creek this evening with some thoughts about potential war and genocide, not that I wanted to dwell upon such misery, but because my focus on the matter seemed unavoidable.

DSCN1124It took a group of four wandering raccoons to put me in my place, to see the humor in nature. The ring-tailed family was heading upstream as I paused to wait for it, but the little tribe caught wind of me. The leader stood on its hind legs, peering in my direction, and gave a warning to the others. Time to high-tail for the bunker!

Come on guys, relax. I’m just a gentle spy! 

Late-summer crickets chirred from hillside thickets, from blackberry brambles that raked across the tough skin of a walker. Ruffed grouse, first one and then another, exploded from the sumac groves and flushed out the remainder of worldly concern.

Blackberries. How does one describe the taste? Superb! Pick another handful. Not DSCN1094enough in this location to collect and carry back, but enough to be thankful for, enough for rambling on.

The frog pond was alive with damp, big-eyed leapers at the reeds. Leap to survive, my friends; the Two-Legged with the beaver-cut stick is shuffling by.

The clouds moved in aggressively, building on the hilltops with a promise of rain and possibly a thunderclap. I picked another handful of small, succulent fruit, then walked downhill.

Blackberries may have been the inspiration for a ramble, but an overlap of man and wildness, the taste of being, is what I meant to find.DSCN1121DSCN1116DSCN1099

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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12 Responses to Blackberry Ramble/Gentle Spy

  1. stevegalea6953 says:

    Nothing better than a walk like that Walt.

  2. Bob Stanton says:

    Another excellent dispatch from the rivertop! The sunset clouds make for a beautiful picture, reminiscent of a Wyeth cloudscape.

    • Thanks Bob; the Wyeth reference puts me in mind of the Wyeth relatives (Peter Hurd…), artists whose home & studio we once visited in NM, and whose home we saw last month in the Sacramentos.


  3. I think if Uncle Walt ever sat to post on a blog (in his less “important” feeling moments) between writing his poems, they might have sounded something like this. . . “enough to be thankful for. . .” I always feel a little more at peace with the world after reading of one of your rambles. Thank you.

  4. Long says:

    Walt – beautiful pictures and writing. The blackberries look delicious!

  5. Ken G says:

    The blackberries in my neck of the States have been done for a month. I believe we have a good four gallons of them in the freezer. Should make a nice sauce for some ice cream over the winter months. My friend Dale Bowman of the Sun Times publishes his Rambles every morning. You do yours and though I don’t call them Rambles, I guess that’s what they are and what I do.

    Funny thing is, we’re all over 50 and then some. Don’t the young ones Ramble? I vaguely remember doing it all my life.

    • Our blackberries are trailing off rapidly now, Ken, with very few left. They started back in the first week of August. Yeah, it’s been a great berry season. Didn’t freeze any blackberries, but I got a good bag of the blues. As for rambling… Yeah, I ramble; we ramble. I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid. It worries me that I don’t know more than a handful under the age of 30 who indulge in this wonderful, pointless, Zen-like activity.


  6. Alan says:

    I love blackberries, especially wild ones.

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