Can you keep a secret? I’m about to share one. I know where the berries grow. But you have to promise not to tell everyone. This is something you only share with really, really good friends. That’s why I’m only telling you. You know that open space next to the bay? That’s where you start. Park right next to the sign and take the trail to the left.
The birds are already busy chattering away in the trees. They love the early morning sunshine as much as I do. The slight breeze whistles through the pines and causes the eucalyptus to creek and groan. Without even looking, I can tell the bay to the right is empty. When the tide is out, it gets a bit stinky. But it’s the good kind of stink. It smells of living things.
This is where the journey gets a bit tricky. The trail ends and there’s only that slight indentation in the grass to guide us. See it there, leading us slightly to the left? We’re almost there though, so let’s hurry along. Shall we?
Make a left and there it is. The secret berry patch. Doesn’t look like much, does it? But wait until you get a bit closer in.
The location of the berry patch is actually a pretty well known secret in these parts. Just look at how deeply the paths are cut between the plants from years of picking. It’s been several years since I’ve ventured out to my old stomping grounds and I did make one crucial error. I wore shorts. Don’t wear shorts.
It’s when you stop looking so hard that you find the berries. Just be still for a few moments and stand there. Close your eyes and listen to the birds and the wind. Take in the smell of the damp grass, the eucalyptus, the muddy bay. Now open your eyes. Suddenly, the berries are everywhere. It looks, however, that we are a bit too early for a big harvest. With the long, cool spring, everything has been delayed this year.
Although our timing isn’t perfect, we are still rewarded. Our trip yields enough tart berries to make a sauce or perhaps mix with something else in a preserve. Some years you make pies. Other years you have just enough to top your breakfast cereal. Either way, visiting the secret berry patch is never a waste of time. Much like fishing, it’s not about what you take home in your bucket, but what you leave behind. Things like stress, deadlines, and frustrations all seem to disappear out here. Spend even a little time out here and all that’s left is you, a bucket and some berries.