Sticks to Kids

What Passes For Autumn rolled in very early Sunday with an atypically hard and much-needed rain, followed by the aforementioned sunbreaks.  I mustered myself for a final bout of summer-related yard work between the rain and the sun, claiming the need to work while Oscar napped, but really I just wanted to get out in the fresh, damp air.  I wanted to cross the lawn while the grass was still fraught with the heavy drops that soak your high-tops just retrieving the paper, and I wanted to smell the recently-drenched leaves while they still retained that oily, almost amphibian odor.

Sunday morning was the lastest skirmish with the blackberry colony behind our back fence, probably the last for the year.  As tasty as some folks find blackberries, for me the fruit can never excuse the virulence with which the thorny vines invade and dominate our otherwise benign local flora.  I heard somewhere that this species of blackberry was imported from Europe to North America to assist in holding back the Mississippi.  How they got to Western Washington is a mystery; the North Fork doesn’t wander much, so perhaps the vines simply burrowed underneath the Rockies, in the manner of the monster fungus of Oregon.

In the case of our particular outbreak, the vines straddle a small creek which runs behind our back fence.  The residence behind us is some sort of halfway house, and while they do have a large garden, proper attrition or outright elimination of the blackberry vines seems beyond them (while one resident does an uncanny vocal impersonation of a goat, he sadly lacks a complementary talent for mastication).  I’m of varying sensitivity to environmental concerns regarding the use of weed-killers and other herbicides, but the proximity of the creek shames all consideration of poisoning the vines, like human shields around a Baghdad bunker.  Nevertheless, I have long believed that so long as blackberry vines infest the planet, napalm will have its place.

For now, I rely on a pair of sharp shears to defeat the vines as they thicken into spears, stalks, and trunks.  I do not hesitate to reach over the fence to sever vines on the neighboring property; in loco pestis, doncha know (although Athena help me if I drop the shears into the thicket).  Snick-snicking isn’t the most grueling aspect of the work; that would be the gathering of the fallen shards into the yard waste can.  It’s exacting work, if only because severed bits of vine, like other forms of Pure Evil, can wreak havoc in even the smallest amounts. Fortunately, the underside of blackberry leaves are helpfully ash-pale. The next time I don dungarees and galoshes, it will be a truly Autumnal campaign: the gutters.

Another sign of Autumn: this morning I exhausted our supply of creamed honey when spreading my toast.  Come the First of October, I will break into the first jar of this year’s plum-cinnamon jam!

(Re: Kafka in the 50s: I can imagine him, actually.)

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