The sun is shining this morning. Gloriously so. I knew that even before I opened my eyes because the light penetrated through my eyelids.
A house sparrow perches near my window and sings a long, involved peep, dee, doodly, peep, zee doo-dah, peeply, peep, peep, dee riff. The length of his song makes me breathless, wondering when the tiny bird will come up for air. As a former singer, I wish I had that kind of breath control.
Yay, it’s the season for tulips and daffodils.
I absolutely love mornings, especially by the sea, and especially when it’s a spring day. But with spring comes the yearly chore begins of inspecting the gardens and deciding what to prune, what to fertilize, what to dig up, what to plant.
Yesterday I spread fertilizer and weed killer on my lawn and wondered why nothing seems to kill the blackberry which has spread from the vacant land behind our house, submarined its way to our unsuspecting lawn, its thorny tentacles emerging among the blades of grass like horrible zombie fingers from a fresh grave.
Today, I’ll go outside and check to see if there are any more invaders in or around my little patch of grass. Blackberries are like spiders: they’re fine as long as they stay where they belong. In the spider’s case, I talk to them just like this whenever I encounter one: “Okay, spider, just live in the garden and it’ll be live and let live. But if you get it into your spider head to hunt bugs inside my sacred, spider-less abode: you’re dead!”
Same with blackberries. Stay in your patch with all the other blackberry bushes and don’t go thinking—I’m sure blackberry bushes can indeed think—that there are greener pastures, like in my lawn or garden.
“Die, monster, die!” I growl as I spray and spray and spray weed killer, saturating each thorny length of vine.
I should have been wearing gloves to get this shot:
A few days later, the blackberry withers, browns, and shrinks back into the earth. But I know it will be back. Blackberries have more lives than cats. I remember my dad doing the annual battle with them back at our home in Lafayette, California. But one year, before my father could poison the vines, my brother, Jay, harvested the berries and we had several week’s worth of blackberry syrup for our pancakes. Wow, was that ever wonderful.
There’s nothing better—in my opinion—than a ripe succulent blackberry. Don’t bother to take them home and wash them. Just blow off the debris and pop that little sucker in your mouth. Heavenly.
But the thorny vines? Oh, the battles I’ve fought, the scars I’ve accrued!
They want blood, they crave human blood. Just like zombies.
And if you think you can merely chop them into submission, you’re wrong. They’ll grow ten more thorny vines to replace the one you amputated. I kind of suspect that if I slept near a blackberry bush, it’d wrap itself around me during the night. That’s how fast they grow.
I wish we had thorn-less blackberry vines. Do they have such a thing? If they did, I’d tear out my lawn and let the blackberry bushes go to town. I’d cut little alley ways vertically and horizontally through the bushes. I’d tenderly nurture the plants-as if they needed it!—and speak to them lovingly, stroke their pretty serrated leaves. I’d plant blackberry bushes in pots and place them on my deck, and show them off to my dinner guests. I’d write poems about how lovely blackberry bushes are, how benign and productive they are, how they serve mankind.
But, alas, the reality of those thorns keep the blackberry vines relegated to the outer limits of my property.
I just hope, that come late July, I get first dibs on the tasty berries. After all, none of my neighbors has had to chop and hack at the blackberries. I’m the one with the battle scars.
Blackberries are a good metaphor for all of nature. You can enjoy them, feast on them, hike near them, even camp near them, but remember, they’re wild!
i’m not going to even try to construct some kind of biblical metaphor with blackberry vines as the evil intruder and how we, as Christians need to be on our guard to keep at bay their intrusion.
Nope. Blackberries have wonderful tasting berries, but they’re intrusive and their thorns are lethal for your unprotected skin. That’s it. Anything else is just plain silly.