It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The temperature is mild. The breeze is light. The neighbors have seized upon this gorgeous day to torture their lawns one last time before winter.
I get that people want nice looking lawns. Lord knows in this neighborhood they shell out big bucks nearly all year around to keep their property spiffy. The average lawn care company charges fifty dollars just to mow. Personally I find this amusing. Why, you ask? Because it's flat land and there's no blackberries.
My last front yard in Oregon was big enough to hold a regulation [dog] Agility course with plenty of room leftover. Because we lived on the side of a mountain, standard to the PacNW, part of said lawn also had a thirty plus degree slope. On a riding lawnmower, without catcher bags and the blades set on the first notch, it took an average of two hours to mow the yard, in third gear. Obstacles included: tree roots, big trees; blackberry brambles and deer.
I have a theory regarding blackberry bushes. Blackberries are an alien life force. There is one mother plant plausibly hiding in the Tillamook Forest* that is methodically spreading it's tendrils across the countryside. Those of you who have engaged blackberries in battle know Napalm is not a deterrent. You think it's gone but in reality it's moved to the flowerbeds to wind up through rosebushes and hide in columbines.
Blackberry tendrils are strong. They lie in wait in the grass seeking to wrap around unsuspecting mower blades to prove their superiority by stalling man's machines. Heavy spiked runners grab at clothing and swat at faces or snag exposed arms and legs. Lawn care in the PacNW is often a bloodsport.
The only way we can win is for America to eat more blackberries. Holiday season approaches. Please join in the fight. Bake more blackberry pies, bread, scones and pastry. Drink blackberry juice or add the tasty clusters to your dishes, sweet or savory. Blackberries might not be to your house yet, but they're heading your way.
*allow me to put the Tillamook State Forest into perspective for city dwellers and flat landers - it's 364,000 acres, vertical terrain is roughly 432 times the size of NY's Central Park and spans four counties.
in March 2010 loggers found the wreckage of a WWII Navy plane sixty plus years after it crashed.
after the decimating fires known as The Tillamook Burn, when over 550 square miles burned, 72 million trees were replanted.
Don Berry in his novel To Build a Ship, said of the Tillamook Forest, it's a lesson in humility to stand in the midst of the forest, look up and not be able to see the sky for the trees. Figure at this time he was speaking of old growth forest, prior to burn. Present day trees tower better than 150 feet tall.
now if you were an alien life force, could you pick a better hiding place?