A unique month, not found on the calendar, has begun in the Pacific Northwest. This is the month known as Blackberry Season. Drive around, and you’ll see men, women, children, of all ages, picking berries into buckets, cups, grocery bags, bowls…and some just eating!
The Himalayan Blackberry was brought to North America in the late 1800s, valued for its large, juicy berries. Loved by birds and many other animals, the plant spread widely. This beautiful corner of God’s creation is prime real estate for these berries. Leave land unattended, and chances are, blackberries will be comfortably taking over within a few short years.
As a science teacher, I love to mention this plant. This is a perfect example, growing on the perimeter of our school grounds, of seed dispersal by animals. Animal eats berry, animal digests berry – expect the seed, animal performs what is known, in a life science classroom, as “excretion.” You know about that. The “offerings” from the birds, found on cars, sidewalks, trees, patios, and occasionally, oops! On you…or me. Teachers call this a “real world connection.” What a tasty connection!
Just a side note: Those animals are often birds, but I know for certain that porcupines participate in the great seed dispersal. A few Blackberry Seasons ago, my daughter, Suzanne and I were hiking on Cougar Mountain. We stopped at the top of the hill to just look around and spotted a porcupine, up on his (or her – we didn’t ask or try to look) hind quarters, picking and eating blackberries as fast as it could. Other animals like this month, too.
For eleven months, residents despair of eliminating these plants from their yards. Herbicides claiming to eliminate the canes – nice sales pitch! Dig, cut, burn,…what? There’s another one growing in a new spot in the yard. A few enterprising souls even have a unique business – “Rent a Goat.” Those four-legged creatures, immortalized for eating Bill Grogan’s three red shirts off the clothesline, will eat blackberry canes, thorns and all.
But this is Blackberry Season. So, this morning…
Almost a gallon today…
What should I do with this wealth?
I have so many choices; pie, cobbler, ice cream topping, ice cream, jam, jelly, pancake syrup, …think I’ll just freeze these. Then I have choices all winter. And Blackberry Season has just begun.