Monique Keiran: Blackberries and BlackBerries are in season

Blackberry picking, like developing BlackBerry devices, is a prickly business.

When Nature Boy was growing up on the Mainland — long before email or smartphones came along — his family would venture out to harvest “their” blackberry patch near Pitt Meadows.

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Nature Boy always assumed danger duty. He’d armour himself with rubber boots and his grandfather’s welding helmet and jacket. Then off he’d go with an ice-cream pail, pushing deep into the brambles. Once inside, he’d fill buckets with berries no other human dared to reach.

These days, we can find berry lovers harvesting this year’s bounty along many of the region’s trails, roadsides and parks.

Likewise, we’ve recently been hearing of the tumbling fortunes of BlackBerry. The Canadian giant has been losing market share to Samsung, Nokia and that other fruit company.

In August, the company announced it was seeking buyers or alternative investment options. Going private or being bought would allow the company to re-organize its business.

Given the current open season on both kinds of blackberry/BlackBerry, I’ve assembled a few pointers on how to approach picking either fruit:

Assess your need. Will your life be complete without blackberries? Are there alternatives? Do you even like blackberries, or do you prefer — oh, I don’t know — apples? Do you intend to use blackberries with other fruit or food or computer technology? They are, for instance, a key ingredient in bumbleberry pie. Or is that humble pie?

And just how many blackberries are necessary?

Blackberries and BlackBerry have their fans. Berry-interested folk love the perfectly ripened berry’s sublime sweetness, while they also appreciate the ever-present mouth-puckering risk of choosing a tart specimen.

As for the device, governments, health care, finance and other industries built on safeguarded information favour its secure, reliable system. Even the U.S. Department of Defence approved their use on its networks.

Avoid low-hanging fruit. Avoid accessible berries growing below the height of the tallest dog’s back end. If you’re paranoid about your neighbours’ toilet habits, raise the minimum height to that of the tallest man’s waist. For berries harder to reach, a Kevlar bodysuit should do the trick, if a welding suit isn’t available.

If you’re in the market for sinking tech companies, consider what is on offer and what the potential is before committing yourself. How certain are the rewards and returns if you did invest? And would they be worth the investment?

After all, according to Wall Street, BlackBerry hasn’t attained even the height of a bull’s butt in recent years.

Check out the competition. Are competitors eyeing your patch? Stake your territory early in the day. However, not all blackberries on a cane ripen simultaneously, so if you wait a few days, you’ll find more bounty.

Watch especially for bears. They’re your most dangerous competitors — even on the Saanich Peninsula.

A bear market on BlackBerries has also been a concern. Given the company’s tumbling value, the competition has had plenty of opportunity to stage takeovers. However, the company’s valuable patents could attract fire-sale interest.

Clean all fruit you intend to consume. Blackberries can hide worms and bugs of all kinds. Before consuming them, soak your fresh-picked berries for a few minutes in a mild bleach solution, then rinse and soak them again in fresh water.

Worms, bugs and viruses are always issues with computer technology. Scrutinize any computer company and its products for those problems, and decide whether it’s worth the risk. Finding a worm in your BlackBerry may prompt you to toss the works, and maybe your cookies.

While you won’t corner the market on mobile devices with the above tips, they might help you gather enough berries to last the winter.

And when the dreariness settles in, every blackberry you pop in your mouth will taste of summer … while you check your BlackBerry or other device for emails from friends vacationing in the sun.

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