Relaxing Wilderness Exercise With Benefits

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

A few weeks ago I told you of my speculation of a promising crop of blackberries in the wilderness. I am pleased to report my prognostications were berry spot on. I have been three-for-three-for-three: 3- trips, 3- hours, 3-gallons over the past week.

Blackberry picking is relaxing from the business baloney dealt with on a daily (and sometimes nightly) basis.

It teaches improved observational skills as I look along my woodland walk for telltale signs of approaching blackberries. There are often tall canes of bright red berries at the edge of a patch contrasting with the green foliage—I call them signal berries—guiding me to where the masses of concealed ripe fruit might be. Usually, I don’t get much ripe pickings from the signal berries as, being out in the open, the woodland birds usually beat me to their ripe offerings.

But once a patch is located via the signal berries, frequently the interior fruits are big, juicy and plentiful…if you can get to them.

Picking blackberries teaches patience and dexterity to move blocking blackberry canes without getting the sharp end of a briar to allow access to the interior of a wild-grown patch. Once inside the honey…er, berry…hole, it is reaching, twisting, crouching, sometimes kneeling sometimes stretching to find the ripe fruit.

As I stretched and maneuvered I thought that berry picking could be called woodland yoga what with all of the peculiar positions I frequently find myself searching for then harvest the fruit. Sometimes it’s a hunkered down squat reaching up and around prickly briars to get to the fruit. Sometimes it is a standing lean over a briar, sometimes it is straddling and balancing on downed rotting treetops. Blackberries like to grow where finding them is a challenge, I think.

And balancing is important in woodland yoga. Not for the exercise, but to not spill the bucket of berries. The longer I pick, the more frequently I check that the spring clip holding the heavier and heavier berry bucket to my britches. There comes a point when sweat, briar scratches, and thirst for some cool drink combine to tell me “That’s enough for this trip.”

So I meander my way back to the wilderness retreat, gingerly stepping over tree branches that offer more exercise for my now tired, sweaty body.

Tired & sweaty: it must have been a good workout.