Bad Blackberries

There's this little throbbing in the joint of my thumb, and the last good blackberry I had was three weeks ago.

When sharing music collections, the assumption is that the sharer listens to their entire collection, that each part is beloved. It's not clear if this is assumed or I assume it's assumed. History is not clear (in a music collection). Who has music collections anymore?

I assume summer is full of blackberries. To grow up here is to have intimate knowledge of brambles. Well-irrigated lawn has a flavor, as does shade, and parched railroad tracks. One develops a taste for a place, the best place to pick them. Though it may change throughout the summer, as each ripens and shrivels at a different time. The best is always just at the cusp of something awful. Some prefer them almost inedibly sour, others on the verge of drying up or fermenting on the vine. I knew a boy who savored the red, unripe ones at the edge of the middle school field. They were never ripe before the school year ended. I don't imagine he went back for the ripe ones.

Most blackberries are awful. They're insipid, or acrid, or rotten, or never tasted like anything at all. But I take for granted that conditions will be just right somewhere in town each year. This year I walked past a family happily picking buckets of berries I considered barely worth picking one or two on my way.

The really good-looking ones were just across the irrigation ditch, on the side with all the NO TRESPASSING signs.

Someone said it's the storms. All that smoke and cloud blocking the sun. At sunset, in between long shadows, the sun isn't a presence as it is in the afternoon, but a laser beam. Those tiny druplets must be nearly boiled on the inside, on a good summer day. Sweat baloons.

Someone else said just the opposite, that it's been too hot and dry for the fruit to "develop." He also suggested that minor back pain from working (in?) should be alleviated by working out. The impending dough-shaping tendonitis, too, can apparently be kept at bay by a gadget that's a metaphor for the place in the world in enables one to occupy: A ball and socket, that once it gets spinning must be gripped in anticipation of its movements. Its gyrations can only be maintained by keeping up, pushing back, synchronizing ahead. I at first suggested it operates on empathy. It was pointed out to me that it's a machine. I'm still not clear on what that changes. Perhaps there's just some deep-seated impetus to go forth and give handjobs rather than fornicate with metal. My boss does not want the art of "a computer guru" on display in his shop, but "someone who actually puts actual paint on an actual canvas with an actual brush--that's what I want to see."

These paragraphs are more or less a season of bad blackberries. Every good blackberry I've ever had was felt entirely apropos. Of what? During one of these storms that can still be termed dry despite brief, violent deluges, we were watching the lightning. Across the street someone overheard our oohing and told us the middle of his tennis court was struck the previous night. I was thrilled; it was like he'd had lunch with a celebrity. I didn't see a tennis court, and didn't ask. At this point would be a near-miss not to say that the atmosphere was electric. As it is when there are no good blackberries. All this lightning hitting everywhere but right here. We kept counting the seconds between sight and sound, with a kind of giddy yelp of fear whenever it was less than five: "That one was really close!"

21 August 2014