Blackberry Winter

Saturday was sort of a chilly day for a mud run but we did one anyway. The heavy rains the day before assured that the whole course would be soft and sloggy and so I slogged away. It had been eight months—almost to the day—since my last run, which had left me with a rather impressive tear in the meniscus of my left knee. It had been four months—almost to the day—since my knee surgery. A two-mile run instead of a three-point-two-mile run seemed like a good way to check the healing.

As it turned out, the knee is not ready for running but it handled my slow slog-jog on soft ground rather better than I expected. Not to mention the climbing, crawling and scrambling. I was careful to make sure my right foot hit first whenever I dropped to the ground and I avoided jumping. At the end of the day, the knee was slightly sore but when I woke up Sunday morning, it felt no worse for the wear.

Another thing I noticed Sunday morning was a distinct chill in the air. It had been cool and cloudy Saturday morning with the temperature in the mid-fifties. The wind held off until after I’d finished my run. Sunday, the temperature was in the low fifties with a fifteen-mile-an-hour wind out of the north. Rough calculations put the wind chill at the forty degree mark. Forty degrees is not the anticipated temperature for May First in southern Kansas.

But it is not all that uncommon, either. I remembered noticing a row of blackberries blooming along Rock Road in Derby as we headed back from the mud run. I also remembered the older folks back home in West Kentucky talking about “Blackberry Winter” when I was growing up.

After several weeks of spring weather with temperatures in the sixties, seventies and even eighties, we’d have a spell of chilly days, overcast skies and cold wind. Since it seemed to always come just at that season when the banks and fence rows were flush with white blooms on sharp-thorned branches, they called that cold spell “Blackberry Winter.”

It seems to be pretty common in human endeavor that just about the time some good thing seems just about ready to start bearing fruit, there’ll be a Blackberry Winter of sorts. Some sort of opposition emerges, folks start throwing cold water on some good idea and all the people who’d promised to help sort of disappear for a while. Just when the blooms started filling out and the hope of good things to come seemed to flourish, the wind shifts around to the north and the sky starts filling up with cold, gray clouds. Seems like things are just ripe for giving up.

Well, folks, the blackberry bushes found out they could endure a cold spell. They found out that their roots were deep and they held onto their blooms and their soon promise. And come June, they’d have a full crop of big, black, ripe berries.

So, let your strong branches flex with the wind and don’t let a little cold spell send you packing up and heading off looking for warmer weather. Blackberry Winter will pass and the things that last will prevail. Just make sure that your fruit stays more important to you than your thorns.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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