The Battle of the Briars

I have been fighting a losing battle.

No, I haven’t been vainly trying to solve the problems in the Middle East (although I do have opinions about them), nor trying to reconstruct society in my own image. The battle that I have been losing is against blackberry briars.

I don’t really have anything against blackberries, in fact, I love them – in pies, cobblers, jellies and ice cream. For me the world would be a darker and sadder place without blackberries. Besides, when modern society goes down the tubes blackberries will undoubtably end up becoming a major supplement to my diet.

“So why are you fighting blackberry briars then, Dave?” See, I heard you ask that…

Here in western Oregon blackberries are common, in fact, they are our most common berry bush. You can find patches growing on hillsides and along rivers. Especially rivers, for blackberries like a certain amount of moisture in order to flourish. Which means that here on the Oregon Coast there are blackberry patches everywhere, because even in summer the moisture levels are perfect for blackberries to grow in abundance. And they do. Abundantly. Which is why I have been fighting them all summer.

If it was left entirely up to nature, the blackberry bushes here on our place would swallow the house up in no time. I have watched berry vines that I cut back to the ground a month ago grow anywhere from six to ten feet – in a month. I’m not exagerrating one bit! We’ve had a damp summer with periods of rain ever since June, and the conditions have been right for the berry vines to grow exponentially. For those of you who may have read Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Wounded Land, it’s been a little like living under the green sun.

So I’ve been busily out there with clippers and loppers and weed-eater, hacking away along the edges, trying to keep the house clear enough to at least walk all the way around it without a machete. My inner diplomat is also in the process of negotiating some sort of compromise with the berries, for there are several areas on the property where I plan on letting them grow their little hearts out. Just don’t swallow the house and the yard.

That’s okay, though, because when winter sets in and they stop growing so fast, I’ll finally gain the upper hand. Until next summer, anyway…

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Battle of the Briars

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