I told family and friends I was going to Dumas, MS to photograph a crazy man but even when I said it I didn't know the extent to which what I was saying could be considered the truth. What I knew of the truth came from a little research and a phone interview I did with the guy last year. Since then I have stopped doing magazine articles and consequently forgot about the moment I pitched this story to a second publication. I forgot until last week when I heard from the editor, a quick but crucial reminder of the June 10th deadline. Because of what I remembered I didn't panic. I decided I was up for the challenge, and an email response from Robert Hays said he was as well.
What I remembered was that it was the easiest interview I ever conducted, that he reminded me of my Dad, that I could not write as fast as he could tell me everything I couldn't imagine I needed to know about a berry, a blackberry to be exact. Still that's not even exact enough because we won't even get into how many types of blackberries there are or how many Robert grows.
What I will tell you is that the eight hours in the car yesterday was worth it. Because what he does works. Because Robert has found a way to more than double the average yield of a blackberry plant without the use of any fertilizers or chemicals.
I have to write the article today about how Robert does what he does, but for you I'll summarize by writing it comes down to hard work and common sense though common is not a word I would ever use to describe what Robert does. In fact, once Robert grows enough berries to feed the world I think we need to put him on any other project where we need an expert.
Anything, I swear. Just put this guy's brain on it.
Today I am grateful for a trip, for a little hike on a farm, for how the people of this world continue to amaze and inspire me.