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I am a great gatherer.  I can pick for hours every day – it’s meditative.  Of course if I lived 10,000+ years ago and had to rely on hunting/gathering for survival, I don’t think I would  starve to death, but there might be more cursing than meditation.

Strawberry season is over and now I am champing at the bit for black raspberry season to begin.  The berries are starting to turn from green to red… but they won’t be ready to pick until mid-July when they turn that beautiful shade of deep purple/black.   We’ve had good and bad harvest years, and this year, I have been bracing myself for a poor haul because last Fall, the dairy farmers who hay our fields “cleaned-up” the edges.  And even though I realize brush hogging the edges is necessary, otherwise the forest will eventually take back over… it’s bad for berry business, man!  But after my morning walks yesterday and today, I am bracing no more — I stumbled upon the motherload!

The Motherload. It's like this in all directions.

I was walking in the woods behind us – we are friends with the owner and recently he said to me “you should really hike to the top – it’s beautiful up there.”  Prior to yesterday, the dogs and I had only walked through the edge of his woods to escape either the blazing hot sun or heavy downpours.  I was actually afraid to see what was at the top because our friend had some “professional loggers” come in two summers ago [hackers if you ask me] and the woods that we do walk through are completely devastated.  [Have you ever seen a Nat. Geo show about the ivory trade?  Hunters will come in,  cut out the elephant’s tusks and leave their bodies behind in a pile.  Well that’s what these woods are like  – all these massive, gorgeous trees, felled, trunks hauled away, and what remains are entire tree-tops scattered about in ruin.]

That was an awful summer – you’d hear the chainsaws ripping all day, the incredible loud, cracking sound of falling trees.  I remember wanting to stop them – it was heartbreaking.  But my husband kept saying “it’s his land – he can do whatever he wants.”  It’s true – the town has no comprehensive plan – so people can do pretty much anything they want.  I’m still angry about it – the forest is ugly now, it borders our land, and I have to look at it every day.

But forests have an amazing way of recovering, and now that the canopy has been opened up, the motherload of berry bushes has grown on the forest-floor below.  With our friend’s permission, I am going to pick that mountaint-top clean.  There are 100x more black raspberries than strawberries to pick so I will likely be lost in the woods for weeks…

**How the “Hunter” part of this story fits in?  I climbed a tree stand while in the woods.  At this point, I am only willing to hunt with a camera and not a gun.

In a hunter's tree stand.

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