PAT NEAL: The coming crisis

IT WAS ANOTHER tough week in the news.

We live in a time when people tend to blame the media for bad news, but all we ask is that you don’t shoot the messenger.

Of course, people working in the trenches of the media would prefer to report a rescued lost kitten, a found lost puppy or a revolutionary scientific discovery that makes Scotch broom worth money.

That, unfortunately, is not how the world works.

There is unpleasantness, discord and strife in the modern world of the future in which we live. Add to that another unprecedented natural disaster that threatens the very foundations of our experiment in democracy.

At the end of the day, the most important thing we have to share with each other is the truth. Or something like it. And the fact is my research has uncovered an uncomfortable condition of a coming crisis that could negatively affect the quality of life for you, the dear reader(s).

You have been warned.

Read no further if you are of a sensitive nature or have a nervous condition that causes you to yell at your television.

The latest regional forecasts and windshield surveys have predicted that there will be no wild blackberry pie on the Fourth of July.

The importance of blackberry pie in the celebration of the birth of this great nation cannot be overstated.

It is a message to the world that, no matter how bad this country is failing, we can still sit down together at the end of the day, have a steaming hot piece of blackberry pie and wish each other a happy Fourth of July.

Baking a wild blackberry pie on the Fourth of July has been a benchmark of what’s right with America, until now.

This year, our precious national heritage is in danger of falling by the wayside.

Due to the unseasonably cold weather this spring, the blackberries will be late.

Blackberry futures have jumped from $35 dollars to $50 dollars a gallon in a reaction to this perceived shortage, or what some have termed a blackberry famine.

Social media posts have warned of an impending influx of berry-crazed outsiders from the evil cities across the water bent on cashing in on our berry bounty.

Crowds of citified blackberry pickers often stomp the berry vines in a crude effort to fill their buckets with this black gold.

These foreign pickers seem to delight in stepping on unripe blackberries, robbing us of future picking opportunities while despoiling one of the last natural resources we have left.

You’re probably asking yourself right now, “What can we do to protect our blackberry heritage?”

Well, I’ll tell you.

It is not my intent to incite unrest in the berry-picking community in an attempt to sell professional, guide-model, ergonomically-designed blackberry picking buckets online.

No, eternal vigilance is sometimes the price we pay for blackberries.

We need qualified blackberry pickers to guard our berries from exploitation by outsiders.

The state of Washington Department of Natural Resources rules strictly limit blackberry harvest to “three gallons per day, not to exceed nine gallons per year.”

We have all heard of scofflaws who brag about having a freezer full of blackberries, flooding social media outlets with blackberry pie and ice cream photos in January.

These berry-hoarders should be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.

Anyone caught with 10 gallons or more of blackberries in their freezer should lose their blackberry picking privileges for life.

Until then, if you see something, say something. The berry you save could be your own.


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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