If you’re an Adventist, then you probably know what camp meeting is. If you’re not, then I’ll explain it to you: each year, hundreds of church members convene in their respective conferences for ten days of spiritual growth and fellowship, usually in tents. Truthfully, I never really liked going. Being the shy boy I was, going to the meetings and meeting other kids my age was absolutely terrifying. However, there was one perk to attending camp meeting: wild blackberries.
It’s nearly impossible to walk around the redwoods camp meeting without seeing a blackberry bush. They’re literally everywhere. The bushes stand along the side of the roads, with kids and grown-ups alike mercilessly pecking at them. I’ve often wondered how the snack shop they set up every year stays in business, as everyone seems to munching on berries nonstop.
My best memories there involve these berries. There was the time when I slyly handed my sister an unripened one. The joy her puckered face brought was only matched by the relief I felt when I found my grandma, who has alzheimer’s, happily popping berries into her mouth after 45 minutes of searching. Of course, I also felt pretty awesome when I easily picked the hard-to-get berries: the ones nestled in thorns, or the ones to high for my family to reach.
I don’t understand why foraging evokes poverty. I would think that finding food for oneself and knowing exactly where it came from could be a privilege, some sort of honor. Then again, whenever I picked berries, there was always a more substantial meal waiting for me.