The Gray and The Brown and The Blue —
and the Accidental Engineers.


Brown Thrasher

Blue Jay

The birds have not been pleased abut what we’ve done
the past three years with our nets.

But we weren’t happy with their version of sharing, either,
knocking each berry to the ground with a single peck on the day before,
by our reckoning, that berry was ripe for picking.

We had been tossing the 25 foot square nets, best we could,
up and over the bushes. It was slow, rough work
both for us and for the bushes.
The branches carried the weight of the nets, especially at the tips,
and lots of berry clusters were knocked down.

And because the branches were pressed right up against the nets,
the birds could scramble over the top and peck through the mesh.

The challenge we set for ourselves in this year of quarantine was:
could we devise a structure to hold the nets over the bushes?

It had to be doable — this year, before the berries were ripe —
also affordable, reusable, closed tight against the birds,
but openable somehow so we could get inside and pick.

Moving up the hill, section by section,
roughly in order of ripening.

The very tallest and widest branches still push against the net,
in a few places, but mostly the bushes are free inside.

To our astonishment, we did something like what we set out to do.

The berries cost half-a-dollar apiece, something like, this year.
Subject to amortization, perhaps, depending on how many times
we can take it all down, store the pieces,
and put it up again.

For the moment, it looks as if we might have won.
Sorry, guys.