Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blackberries and brambles

Danger lurks on the land in unsuspecting places.

It's not the hidden mountain lion, newly migrated from South Dakota.

I'm not afraid of the coyote with his howl or the prowling bobcat.

There is danger in the plants.

You may not know it, but plants are at war with us...

...their weapons - potent and prickly.

Consider the poison ivy creeping up this tree, towering over me, fairly dripping with its toxic urushiol.

Luckily, I'm not very sensitive.

Besides I know the poison ivy berries are good for the birds.

And the warning three leaves keep visitors on the paths and out of my woods.

Not a bad thing.

Besides the poison ivy, there's the risk of thorns.

 Hidden behind the beauty of the wild roses ...

...are scimitar thorns that curve into your skin and hang on for dear life.

Or the brambles

 - filling the understory wherever there is a sliver of sunlight, the brambles brighten the darkness under the trees.

The flowers are lovely...

...but get caught in their talons and you'll be sorry.

Luckily, I love the brambles, too.

I know they are home for birds and bunnies.

And I know one month from now I'll be tasting their sweet fruit as their blackberries burst forth in the warm summer sun.

We can eat all we want and leave the ones deep in the brambles for the critters.

The man on the bulldozer looked at me..."Dr. Steussy, this man paid me to take down these sticker bushes behind his house. There's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

I looked at the brambles.

I saw the tiny birds huddled between the thorns - safe from predators and weather.

In my mind, I saw the blackberries bursting from the thorny branches one month from now - precious food for wildlife and sweet taste for me.

I looked at the entrance sign of the development...

...and I sighed.
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