The blackberry is one of the great things about late Summer/early Autumn. In twenty-first century technocivilisation many of Nature’s gifts are camouflaged to us, coming carefully wrapped in plastic, but the blackberry is still there evidencing cosmic generosity to humans and other animals. And no, I’m not saying that some North American tech company is doing us all a spiritual favour just by offering us their products.. I’m talking about the original blackberry, the wild fruit of the humble briar or bramble, Rubus fruticosus, which grows everywhere in the mountains.
I have heard it argued several times as a justification of hunting that it’s something that humans have always done, a deep-seated anthropological practice, a throwback to our remotest origins. However if we examine these asseverations with a little rigour it becomes difficult to see how the contemporary practice of killing small animals for pleasure with firearms bears any relation to ancient human experience. On the other hand the practice of picking berries in the wild offers a direct connection to the experience of prehistoric humans, harking back to how we lived thousands of years ago – and tens of thousands of years ago.
The act of reaching out with the hand to pick the blackberry, detaching it more or less carefully from the thorny briar and guiding the ripe fruit back towards the mouth to the waiting teeth and tongue.. can hardly be very different in distant prehistory to what it was this past September in Guadarrama. An authentic hunter-gatherer experience. Truly primal!