Today was the kids first day back to school. It’s hard to believe that we have a 5th and 2nd grader for the 2016-2017 school year. I feel that it should be harder to let my baby go, but honestly it’s harder to let my oldest go. It seems that just yesterday I was dropping him off for the first day of kindergarten; bolting for the door, sun glasses down, so that I could go ball like a baby in the car. My, how the days are long and the years short. It’s a little surreal; I remember when I was in 4th grade, and thinking how cool the 5th graders were. Now I have a 5th grader.
It’s a joy to watch them both growing up. Somedays I stand in the kitchen and want to pull my hair out, but most of the time it’s love-filled amazement. Two of the greatest honors of my life, being mom and wife; I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
After dropping them off at school, I headed home to work in the berries. I’ve waited a month for this, to work on the farm without the guilt of leaving them unattended for hours. This first window was short, so I got to it and found myself drenched with sweat in no time. It felt so good.
Blackberries are interesting plants, they grow by canes. A cane is like a long stem that grows up out of the ground, some varieties stand straight up and some varieties flop over. Each year, blackberry plants produce new canes that will have fruit the following year and then die. So it’s imperative to have healthy new canes each year. With an acre of blackberries in production, the constant rotation of new growth canes and last years fruit producing canes keep us busy.
It’s always so exciting to see the new canes coming up, and how quickly! I should say, it's exciting at first. Then as the canes continue, it get's a little overwhelming and scary. The last couple of years, we’ve had an average of eight to twelve feet of growth in the space of 4 months. To be honest, it can get out of control very quickly. This July we had about 12” of rainfall, and August is just over halfway over with 8”+ of rainfall. The rainfall we have experienced accentuates everything, including the weeds. However, this abundant rainfall also causes the new blackberry canes to grow excessively! They grow so fast, that the canes are weak and a good wind breaks them off at the ground. Eight feet of new growth can be gone in an instant.
We have a trellis system for each row of blackberries, the canes get tied up for support and to make picking next year easy. There are over 600 plants, and each plant will have anywhere from 3-12 new canes to tie. (It's a lot.) While the new canes get tied up, the fruiting canes which have died get cut out and burned.
Growth, when it comes fast, can be so overwhelming. Sometimes it seems impossible to deal with; however, one plant and then one row at a time, and one tarp full of pruned branches at a time is taken to the burn pile.
My kids seem to be growing so quickly; but not like the blackberries with fast growth that is brittle and breaks in the storms of life. In reality, my kids are growing at a perfectly designed pace. Watching each of them grow at just the right pace amazes me. I have nothing to do with how fast they grow and mature. My job is to grow them well, love them; provide food, shelter, attention, support and guidance, teach and enjoy them. It’s not all easy, in fact it’s down right hard sometimes. But to know that they are growing up well is a satisfying return. (However, I do wonder how I’m messing them up; we’re not perfect.)
I love how our Creator has created everything to grow at just the right pace. Sometimes He grows us up really fast, and sometimes a little slower. One thing I know for sure, we are never truly done growing and changing. Through our growth at any rate, He is our source of Constant support, if we reach out and accept it. He is our Shadow to hide in with the heat of the day threatens. He is a Solid Rock to cling to when the waters come pouring down. He Teaches us, and is our Guide when life's classroom gets confusing.
It’s fun to watch the blackberries canes grow so quickly. And, it’s fun to watch the kids growing up….at just the right pace. Could you imagine if our children grew as fast as blackberries? This world would be in utter chaos! And how often would they need new shoes?! Groceries?! My mind (or wallet) can’t even go there.
Lord, when life seems to be flying by, help me to rest in You, in the moment and in the presence of each day, and my Creator. When it comes to my kiddos, I’ll take the "slow" and amazing growth over the fast and out of control growth any day.