Metaphors and Distractions

A blackberry vine is growing up between the floorboards in the middle of the screened-in porch. It has traveled under the latticework, under the ground, from the main stalk twenty feet away, which climbs up the side of the house. It must be a metaphor for something—things popping up in unexpected places, pioneers venturing into the unknown, iconoclasts refusing to stay where they belong.

I asked my son to crawl under the porch and see if he can reroute it somewhere back outside, but he’s been too busy. It’s next year’s vine; at the end of each season the vines that have already produced berries are pruned so that all the plant’s resources will go into the new growth, which will produce next year’s berries. I thought we could establish a new colony on the other side of the porch.

It’s a domesticated version of the blackberry, with no thorns, and it produces a prodigious amount of fruit. On a summer’s day when I’m sitting on the porch listening to the pond and trying to write, I glance to the side and a dark berry will catch my eye. Immediately captivated, I can’t be bothered to go into the house to retrieve a bowl or a colander for berry picking. Instead I make a cradle of the bottom of my t-shirt, like a woman in some past era might have done with her apron, and gather the berries into the white cotton. The grocery store or the CSA co-op we belong to charges $4.99 for a half shirtfull, and I’ll gather at least that much every other day for weeks. I can’t contain my excitement over all that free food, every summer, right next to my screened porch.

After I take the berries into the kitchen and rinse them in a colander, sampling a few and yelling to whomever else might be at home that there are fresh berries, I go back to my seat on the porch. Where was I? Oh, yes. The stray blackberry vine. A metaphor.