Sunday, July 1, 2012

Roses, blackberries, thistles and thorns

Life is like that.
There is always something worth finding even if you have to dig through a lot of  thorns to get there. 

I remember being a young girl and learning that sometimes you had to hurt to find fulfillment and joy.
I had never seen chestnuts in my life!  I was about 5 when i saw them.  Spikey, soft green balls.  They were so neat.  We climbed the chestnut trees and touched them.  As the season wore on, they started to feel firmer.  Some of them were used as baseballs.  We played with them.  The summer gave way to the fall and the soft yielding chestnuts were now brown, split open with an x at the top just daring us to open them.  My cousins showed me how.  I DO NOT recommend doing it in flip flops, jandals, zories, thongs, shower shoes..whatever you call them.  I also DO NOT recommend doing it in those nylon sided sneakers they had in the 70's.  But if you do, and you get stickers in you (you will) you will find 4 types of pleasure from the pain.  3 nuts...1 large in the center, 2 smaller ones flanking the larger one; and...the softest most velvety lining inside what my Mama called them cockleburs.  We ate them raw...I had never had a roasted chestnut until I moved away from my chestnut trees.  We had to fester a lot of them out with eggshell lining.  It hurt, but I looked forward to the sweet yellow chestnut meat every fall.

Blackberries.  The vines would wrap around my wrists as I reached in to pluck them from the vine.  They would leave tiny scratches and little hairlike thorns behind.  Blackberries are totally worth the pain!  Ours grew around a barbed wire fence...Mama called it bobwire.  I remember my cousins and I staying out picking black berries hiding in the trees just before they cut them down to make a road and build a new park down the street.  Sam Adkins Park in Blountstown, FL.  We would climb over or under the barbed wire fence.  It was rusty and we always got cut somehow.  We would play games about being lost in the wilderness and surviving on blackberries.  Nevermind the blood on our legs, arms, backs from the vines and the bobwire.  When they cut the trees down to make way for the road, we suddenly had pain-free access to the blackberries.  Really great, but not as much fun as pretending to be fugitives, or lost pioneers making our way in the wilderness.

Roses, for a short time I think there was a split rail fence portion in our yard with wild tea roses growing on it, like a small trellis.  If not that is a lovely idea.  I remember meeting tea roses.  Deceptive to a child used to seeing normal rose bushes with large scary thorns on them.  Tea roses or wild rose vines have these tiny little thorns too.  They get under your skin the minute you reach down to pick some for Mama or to smell them.  The smell of wild roses are another thing worth the pain. do they hurt when you pull them bare handed (I never claimed to be wise).  They also hurt when you go out barefoot to gather grass for your cat only to step on the thorns left behind when your wonderful son pulls them, drops the pulled weeds on the ground and walks away.  The thorns fall off when he finally drags himself over to them with a bag to throw them away.  The fallen thorns later bite you when you least expect it.  The beauty of thistles is the draw, and the color.  I've watched butter flies visit them, hummingbirds fiddle with them but the best was watching a pair of finches...male and female on the same thistle eating straight from the plant.  I love to see wildlife just being wild.  Not eating store bought bird seed, but visiting my thistle patch for the fresh seed.  We watched the male feed the female, we watched them flit from dead head to dead head.  I have other wild flowers in my yard.  I'm sure the neighbors love my yard.  The lawn Nazi's abound up here.  I don't care.  I'm not supposed to pull weeds.  After watching the wildlife visiting the wild flowers...I decided to let one small section of my yard go wild.  It's beautiful.  I don't care what the neighbors think, they just better leave my thistle patch alone.  My hurting feet were forgotten as I watched those birds feed.  The pain was worth it, if only to remind me to look at my thistles and enjoy their beauty and usefulness.

There are so many other things in our lives causing pain that we endure because it's worth it. I've learned a lot about pain in my life, physical and emotional.  Some wounds run deep but those memories are so dear and each one are treasures in themselves.  I spend a good deal of time in physical pain but life is worth it.  I would hate to see a life without pain because I really don't think the person would ever know true joy, love, happiness...they would only know one flat emotion.  I never appreciated the simple act of walking before, or cutting things.  I can appreciate those now.  The pain and confusion are worth it because they woke me up to the life around me.  The simple things I took for granted are now treasures.  While digging my way through my current patch of thorns I am learning how sweet sleep is and how I took it for granted, just assuming slumber will be there.  Finding it isn't the case, then having one good  night's sleep is worth it because it reminds me that I take so much for granted and I appreciate that rest so much more.

I hope you find lots of blackberries, finches, chestnuts and other treasures in your own briar patches.  

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