PAT NEAL: A sorry individual

IT WAS THAT great American philosopher John Wayne who spoke these immortal words, “Never apologize and never explain. It’s a sign of weakness.”

That’s from the John Ford western, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” where the Duke confirms what we have long suspected — things were a lot less complicated in the olden days.

Times have changed. These days it’s fashionable to apologize.

Everything is offensive if you think about it long and hard enough, and we have had plenty of time to do just that during the coronavirus quarantine.

Stuck in a squirrel cage of cable news shows, infomercials and social media conspiracy theories, it’s no wonder some of us lost our tenuous grip on reality and expressed unfortunate views that are offensive to others.

For which, I must apologize.

It was my bad to suggest that foreign elements of anarchists, tourists and other questionable types were launching an invasion of the Olympic Peninsula to hijack our blackberries.

It might be on a website somewhere or maybe I made it up.

You need absolutely no facts to create conspiracies these days.

I should have discounted it as just another nut-job, berry-picking conspiracy theory involving Bill Gates, George Soros and the Trilateral Commission.

I should have done some research, but no, I took the ball and ran with it.

It was wrong and for that I apologize.

For one thing, wild blackberries growing on public lands belong to everyone in this great country. That is, everyone who is willing to make the serious commitment to seek out and find new blackberry patches and boldly go where no other pickers have gone before — in forest lands that have not been sprayed with herbicides, yet.

Herbicides kill blackberries.

Wild blackberries are an irreplaceable thread in the tapestry of our history.

Native Americans dried them in cakes. Our pioneer forefathers preserved them in sugar. Modern day blackberry pickers have the luxury of freezing them and later sharing them with friends and family.

Perhaps it was the appreciation of the importance of blackberries that made me overzealous in protecting the future of this precious natural resource.

That was still no excuse to cause panic and a toxic concern about an imaginary invasion of anarchist berry-pickers, but it knee-jerked my hair-trigger.

I am the sorry individual that implied that residents of the Olympic Peninsula should pick all of the blackberries before the anarchists got here and picked them first.

Now, for the first time I am free to reveal the whole conspiracy theory was merely part of an ill-advised marketing plan to sell my guide-model, expedition-grade berry-picking buckets — available in a variety of sizes and colors.

These are not your grandma’s berry buckets, no.

Their sleek, ergonomically designed, patented spill-proof lids completely eliminate the tragic loss of berries due to hornet attacks or falling into holes in the logging slash.

But wait, there’s more!

These buckets are constructed out of environmentally-friendly, biodegradable, space-age materials that are guaranteed not to harm the ozone layer or threaten baby seals, sea turtles or whales.

No, these berry buckets are constructed of 100 percent recycled hemp products. So even if you don’t find any berries, you can smoke the bucket.

And for that I apologize. Just because I am wrong most of the time does not mean I am right some of the time.

Going forward at the end of the day, everyone, be they anarchists, tourists, Bill Gates, George Soros or the Trilateral Commission, are all welcome to come to the Olympic Peninsula to pick blackberries.


Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via

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