January 26, 2023

by Vago Damitio

Blackberries are the scourge of the Pacific Northwest. To those who have never dealt with them, it sounds lovely to have a huge blackberry bramble growing in the yard. It’s different if you live in the northwest. Imported from the Himalayas to England and from England to America, blackberries found a perfect environment to thrive in. The vines can stretch out above or below ground. They wrap around native vegetation and strangle it.

I’ve seen stalks as thick as three inches with thorns nearly an inch long. The thorns are vicious. They break off and lodge in your skin. If left unchecked blackberries can overrun a good-sized lot or pasture in a little more than a season. Wildlife finds them an uncomfortable habitat and land that is overrun with blackberries is good for nothing besides a yearly harvest of the tasty little berries.

I’d been fighting the vines nearly all of my life and found an intense pleasure in the battle. Blackberries fight back. I rarely wear gloves when engaging the prickly vines out of some weird sense of chivalrousness towards nature. I’ve never walked away without spilling some of my own blood on the ground they climb out of.

The smell of the rotting berries and sliced stems was sweet as I used a pair of bolt cutters I’d gotten at a yard sale to cut the stems. Just snip and stomp. Alas, too soon all of the blackberry bushes were gone and so I took out my hammer and searched the fence for some extra nails I could pull and use to patch up said fence. Again, the work was done too soon so I tacked up a gutter that had fallen from the shed that was in the process of collapsing then I fixed up the gate latch that had been getting looser and looser. I looked around for more fixing up, but didn’t see much more to do.

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