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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
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Department of Neurology
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Progress and Progression: When MS and Modern Life Intersect

There is a field at the end of our lane, just a few dozen yards beyond our cottage. I should say there was a field.

This rough patch of ground has been owned by a builder friend of ours for a number of years. While the economy was in the tank, there wasn’t even thought of building anything on this T-shaped plot of about 15 acres.

In the years we’ve been living next to this field, there have been horses and sheep illegally quartered there by people looking of a bit of grass for their animals, a family of donkeys put there every winter (with the owner’s permission), and seasonal raids during which we’ve foraged for everything from nettles and wild garlic to wild primroses and sloe fruit for gin. We’ve also picked buckets and buckets of wild blackberries at the end of each summer.

Our puppies played with the donkeys. We met one foal just moments after she was born, and the mare pushed her to me so that she might get to know us. We called her Baby, and she was still wet from birth as she sucked on my earlobe thinking it might give her a bit of a meal.

We also took the dogs over to chase after the scores of bunnies and hares that hopped around in the long summer evenings. The call of the occasional cock pheasant or the bark of a vixen fox could be heard now and then.

We tried to pick the wild sour cherries ahead of the birds but seldom got more than a handful of nearly-ripe fruit.

My Blackberries Are Gone — I Cannot Walk Further
With planning permission running out, and a housing crunch in the whole of the country, the diggers and stone masons have been at work these past several weeks turning the old field into a teeming construction site and eventual home for nine families. So the blackberry bushes are gone.

There are other stands of brambles ready to burst into ripeness as the waning summer days give way to Celtic autumn, but now my legs have a hard time carrying me to them.

I may have to settle for the few thorny canes that bear less-than-optimal fruit on our little laneway this year. The berry-lined roads in the hills behind our house are out of reach for me this year, and my nearby bushes have gone.

Live While You Can — Memory Is Bittersweet
“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” entreated Robert Herrick in his poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.” He might well have been talking about my blackberries, too.

We don’t know what may change in us or for us as we live with MS. Some things that change were going to change, MS or not. Some things change because of MS.

The one thing that won’t change is the memory of those warm, juicy berries — often broken in my clumsy fingers — as we plucked them from their thorny branches. Half of them made it home — all right, less than half — to be put into cobblers and jams, frozen, stewed, and baked.

This year, it will be the memory of them that is sweet in my mind, but, like the odd sour berry that hadn’t quite ripened, that also will make me wince to know that the picking — for this year at least — will live only in that memory.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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