Blackberries are a summer fruit, but taking out blackberries is a winter chore. There's not much else to do. It's easier to trace and disentangle the vines with less foliage about. And it's more pleasant to wear the padded armor suitable to the task.
It's also a job I love. It contains none of those fussy details, fine-motor skills, or decision-making requirements of other manual labor. Nor does it require tremendous brute strength. Just stubbornness and complete indifference to pain. It's vegetarian dragon slaying. Attack and destroy. And it involves sharp implements.
Even better, it's a job that the kids prefer to observe from a respectful distance. When I'm whipping about a forty-foot length of vine with inch-long spikes, I never find myself suddenly tackled at the knees. And since it involves clearing new play places among the underbrush, they are happy to occupy themselves.
And it even seems rather Christmassy. At least, the third verse of Joy to the World sounds appropriate.
Earlier this week I cleared out around the base of a Douglas fir still young enough to have the lower branches to serve as a good climbing tree. They've been playing Boxcar Children there all week. But then they picked up a stack of Magic Treehouse books at the library on Tuesday, and sat down and read them, assembly-line, all afternoon.
So today, Deux was on fire to build a treehouse. I posited that I would take the matter under advisement, but he protested. He didn't want to do it someday, he wanted to do it now. I pointed out that such complex activities required planning. He agreed: we should plan it today and build it tomorrow. I suggested that we didn't have the right materials, such as lumber or nails, or the right kinds of trees. (Douglas fir grow rather spindly branches at weak angles.)
He hunted up a single board that had been discarded in the bushes. I found some nails and a hammer. We put a shelf up in the tree. It's enough of a fort for now. I don't know if it's capable of magical transportation or not.