Living in Montana definitely has its perks- especially this time of the year- during huckleberry season. A few days ago, my son, his girlfriend and I went into the mountains of Montana in search of huckleberries. We drove for a few miles up a dusty, dirt road, then parked the car and hiked into the woods. For those not familiar with huckleberries, they grow on bushes usually not more than 18″ off the ground and produce a somewhat tart berry, most closely resembling a blueberry.
As usual, I couldn’t help but relate this experience- in this case berry picking- to life. Here are some life lessons I was reminded of while picking huckleberries:
- Timing is everything. A week too early and the berries aren’t ripe. A week too late and they’re gone. And like many things in life, you can’t make berries get ripe before their time. It helps to remember that Nature is always right- even when our timing and Divine timing are different
- Life is abundant. It you think you’ve run out of berries to pick, just look around you. Chances are if your patch is empty you’ll always find another one just a few steps away.
- Getting messy can be fun. Don’t worry about the purple stains on your hands, your sticky fingers, mud on your shorts or anything else. Just enjoy the moment!
- Problems exist everywhere. What you focus on grows- and remembering that is critical. The key is to focus on the good things in life- the berries, being in Nature and the beauty of the moment rather than the mosquitoes, the flies, the neighboring thorn bushes, the heat or anything else. Choose to focus on the good things.
- Things are always more fun when we share them with friends. When you’re heading off to do something fun, share the experience with someone you love.
- Collaboration works better than competition. It seems like when we were each trying to fill our own bags with berries, the process was much slower than when jointly tried to fill one bucket. And, it was more fun to work together in the same patch too.
- Persistence pays off. If you keep on picking what’s in front of you, eventually your bucket will be full.
- Perspective changes everything.If you’re not happy- change your perspective. In the case of picking huckleberries, it’s a literal change. The perspective from above and below are quite different. Most times, the best things in life lie under the surface. If you’re standing in the forest looking down at a huckleberry bush, most times it will look like a bear has already enjoyed the feast, as the berries are hidden underneath the leaves and can’t normally be seen from above. But, when you kneel down on the ground and look up at the bushes, you will find plump, purple berries just waiting to be picked. It’s when we turn things upside down and look at the world differently that circumstances usually change for the better in our lives as well. (In the photos below, the left photo is looking at the bush from above, and the right photo is the same bush looking up from the ground.)
- Gratitude works. Every time I had thoughts of “no more berries”, I was consciously grateful for the berries that we’d already picked and almost immediately we found more unpicked berries. The process seems endless
- Share. Always leave some for the bears and others to enjoy, knowing there will always be more next season.
- There is nothing so sweet as enjoying the fruits of our efforts, or in this case, eating an amazing huckleberry pie, made with love from the berries that we just picked. When we’re tired of “working” and we’re tempted to quit, it helps to keep the reward in mind. Just visualizing that mouth-watering yummy pie made it easy to pick more than enough berries for our pie, and provided a wonderful way to spend a summer day in Montana.