July 4th may be Independence Day, but for me, it’s also the reminder that the blackberries are ripe! And so they are…
This morning, Boomer and I headed out to our favorite blackberry patch, along our favorite birding/wildlife watching road. Evidence of other berry pickers – human or not – was readily apparent by the many trampled paths in the berry patches. Last night, taking this road as a shortcut on my way home, I watched two mink chasing insects in the road. Bear and deer are plentiful here. I plan to come back sometime soon around dusk, park the Jeep and watch. With camera, of course. I’m sure all sorts of critters will be coming through to feast on berries.
I finished up my pickin’ since I had enough to add to my breakfast cereal, so we headed down the road. I rounded a bend and saw another car stopped in the road. The woman driver was just getting back into her vehicle.
Since this is a very narrow road, I pulled over and stopped to allow the other vehicle to go by. The other car stopped too, and she rolled down her window – but I spoke first. “You’re not picking MY berries, are you?” I jokingly asked her. She popped a handful into her mouth and said, “Nope. Not eating them either!” We both went on our way, smiling. Life is good.
After the berry pickin’ I decided to visit one of my favorite trees, just around the corner and on the way home anyway.
This amazing tree is hundreds of years old. It’s a walnut, I think. The base is at least five feet across, and possibly more. I haven’t actually measured it, because the poison ivy vines growing on it are probably just as old. They are the largest poison ivy vines I’ve ever seen. But I’m guessing this tree is a minimum of five feet across – maybe more.
These are not three nearby trees, but three branches that rise from the main trunk. They are each as large around as most of the forest trees nearby.
The bark is deeply furrowed and has the most interesting patterns. The strip and leaf at the far left is the edge of the poison ivy!
What stories this tree could tell! I have no doubt that it stood during the French and Indian War (1756-1761), and the Revolution. Its branches probably gave shade to the folks that built the nearby house I wrote about in this post, in 1830. That house, by the way, is called ‘Heron’s Nest.’ The mason who built it was Nicholas Tillman, hence the “NST” initials on the date stone. It was purchased in 1927 by Frank Stoll, who was a horticulturist with the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Surely such a man loved this old tree.
His house is in ruins now, as are his gardens – but this old tree is still here, still weathering the storms, the heat, the insects. Rooted solidly in Mother Earth, with its branches touching the sky, and holding the secrets of Age. A Sacred Tree. I’m humbled to know it.