The world is full of coulds, woulds, and shoulds. Some of which exist in truly meaningful ways.
But many of them:
Oh, I really should…
If I just could…
I really would…
They only seem to perpetuate invisible barriers.
Who says I should?
Who says I can’t?
Then why don’t I?
Who says I can’t climb a tree?
We all have dreams, and there is no good reason these dreams cannot be part of our reality. No matter how big or small. No matter how silly or strange.
You want to do something?
Then why don’t you?
I know it is not that easy. In fact, just a month ago I felt trapped by my own invisible barriers.
Terribly trapped in a silly conundrum.
I wanted to pick fruit, but yet everything seemed to stop me.
Chokecherries (Prunus virginiana) grow on small to medium sized trees, often found on the edges of wooded areas or standing alone in the open.
The fruit beckons from a far.
It is wild.
Yet that is not what stops me.
I know it well. Its name: common, genus, and species.
Leaf patterns and ecology.
Even uses and recipes.
What stops me is fear.
Fear that regulations might state that I cannot pick there.
Fear that those trees might belong to someone else.
Fear that I might be confronted with threatening words and gestures.
Fear that someone might come with questions,
“Whatcha gonna do with them?”
“Um, eat them kind sir….” (please don’t eat me!!)
“Howsya know them berries ain’t gonna kill ya?”
“Er, I study these plants, you see, ma’am. I’ve even taught about them. Plus I always double check my identifications.”
“Why go to all that trouble, when you can just buy some fruit at the store?”
“Well you see, I can’t buy these in the store. And I really like them. I think they might be better than anything you can buy in the store.”
“Why don’t you just give me MY berries, and we won’t have us any trouble…”
“Am I getting mugged? For wild fruits?”
“Why don’t you just get the hell out of here…”
“Is that a shotgun? Oh shit…”
These delusions seem to quickly escalate out of control. They became paralyzing. Keeping me from doing what I wanted.
But because it was something I wanted to do, somehow in my mind, it must be wrong.
I created a barrier, to keep me from doing what I really, truly wanted.
That barrier was fear.
The day I overcame that fear, I was with my husband, out alone for a North Dakota drive. We were stopping along little lakes, thinking about future places for family camping and seeking out a nice little fishing hole for the afternoon.
First, I saw a chokecherry tree, then about three more.
Beautiful and bountiful.
I discretely picked some and put them in an empty water bottle.
Then I saw some rosehips, and always having wanted to make rosehip jelly, I collected another pint or so of them.
I felt so sneaky and cautious. I was on high alert.
Certainly, I was doing something wrong.
All the while, Hubby was getting out his rod and tackle box and began searching the shoreline for a good place to test the waters.
“Rachel, you had better come see this!” He hollered.
I was convinced he had found a sign that stated the area was a protected nature preserve, and that anyone found disturbing any animals, plants, or rocks would be fined $10,000 and spend up to a year in jail.
My heart sank.
Walking toward him, holding my breath, I failed to see what he wanted me to see.
All along the shoreline.
Bushes loaded with the earthy, rich sweetness of black currants.
I must have been dumbstruck, because he had to urge me on,
“We have some plastic bags in the car. You should go get some.”
Excuses ran through my head.
Someone must have planted these here.
No, someone’s grandpa planted them here 120 years ago.
I’m sure of it.
Heck, the lake is probably even named after him.
BUT WAIT- BLACK CURRANTS.
I looked again, thick along the shoreline, into the trees.
And on and on.
I looked for evidence to show they had been picked before (and by extension, it would be okay for me to pick some too.)
Indeed. Some branches and clusters showed signs of picking.
And since I didn’t think there were many bears around that had been gorging themselves on currants, I took a gamble that humans had indeed been picking these currants.
I would not be thrown in jail if I picked these fruits.
On I went down the shore. Bag in hand. Ready to work.
Picking currants is not easy work. The fruits are barely noticeable from overhead, as they cluster beneath the leaves.
Black Currants (Ribes americanum) thrive along
stream banks, in moist ravines, wet meadows, floodplains, and woodland edges.
Two hours of bending, sitting, kneeling, and gently pulling the leaves back yielded just over a quart of berries and a criticism came to mind,
“That’s an awful lot of work for just a couple berries.”
I silenced the critic within by popping a few more fruits into my mouth.
I was overcoming that barrier.
Even the point that a truck came down the dirt road, I resisted the urge to jump into the bushes to hide.
I acted as though I paid no mind.
But I was focused on my breathing, so to not have a full blown anxiety attack.
I destroyed the barrier.
I no longer had to dance around with the shoulds, coulds, and woulds.
“I would love to collect wild fruit to make jelly, someday.”
“I know I could identify them, afterall, I taught ethnobotany for two years.”
“I should just get enough courage to go do it.”
“Or maybe I shouldn’t bother.”
I tapped into my strengths and knowledge.
I found a resource and harvested it.
I overcame the barrier. And opened a door.
I found a truer, happier version of myself.
I ventured into new possibilities.
Soon I saw opportunities all around.
In campgrounds, parks, fairgrounds, vacant properties, and along the roadside.
Suddenly the world offered a bounty of crabapples, chokecherries,
rosehips, currants, wild plums, buffalo berries, American cranberries, and wild grapes.
Even cultivars of raspberries, apples, grapes, and plums came our way.
The world is full of possibilities. What a valuable lesson and sweet reminder. A bounty that will last far into the future.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
– Paulo Coelho