Friday, September 17, 2010

Urban Berry Bushes - Seattle Berrydise

The middle of September and we can still pick some juicy fruit along streets and alleys of the Emerald City. Hardly a neighborhood in green Seattle goes without blackberry bushes. This city nestled along the shores of Puget Sound, at latitude: 47°36′35″N and longitude: 122°19′59″W is an urban berrydise.

Whereas the best berry picking spots of my youth were treasure troves pickers coveted and kept to themselves, I'm not afraid to share the location of any of my favorite patches in Seattle with you, for there are plenty more down the road or around the block.

Take Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill north of downtown for instance. Along the stairs that lead from Highland to the next street down...  berries. Have a problem with stairs, but don't mind a walk? Head west on Highland turn north at Parson's Gardens, pass some of Queen Anne's architectural beauties that boast rooms with the best view of the Olympic Mountains, and you'll find what looks like a berry mother lode. Meander down the hill and you'll find yet more blackberries, and don't worry about depriving anybody, there's plenty.

Did you know that berries don't ripen at the same time all over town? I keep my eye on bramble bushes to see where the juiciest ones can be had. While living on Queen Anne Hill, I've taken the car to the West Seattle peninsula, after I'd discovered a particularly well loaded row of unripe brambles on Genesee, near the Junction. Took just a bit of patience to wait and get there when the berries would be at their prime.

With about 200 public parks and gardens and amazingly green neighborhoods, it would be hard not to find a place to nosh during a stroll. Now that I live closer to the south end of Lake Washington,  Kubota Garden has become my berry source. The Japanese garden may be manicured, the maintenance roads on the periphery near the ravines surrounding the pristine park are lined with bushes, the succulent free fruit dangling from branches. Branches with thorns, and I've got to admit, I've got a few scratches on my arms and legs. But I've got six jars of jam on the kitchen counter, and I'm sure there will be more.

Previously published in slightly different form (with Kerry Park misspelled as Kelly) at HotelsByCity 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weed Whacking Bramble Mashing Goat

Our across-the-street neighbor has gone completely green. Her next-door neighbor says she often sees the other contemplating, cigarette in one hand, cup o'Joe in the other, as though she's wondering what to do with the dandelions that have taken over her front yard and parking strip.

That grass, it grows so naturally and yes, indeed it looks quite beautiful, especially when the knee high strands move in the wind. Then there's plantain (no not the banana-like) or way-bray, buttercup and ale-hoof.

In elementary school in the Netherlands I learned that the latter could be found right alongside nettles. Ale-hoof can take the sting out of the contact blisters you get from touching nettles. Isn't it wonderful, the way nature provides an antidote right there where you need it? There are no nettles anymore in our neighborhood though. Most likely they've been killed to death with pesticides. Which is a pity because the non stinging nettle blossoms have a great attraction for butterflies…

I feel for my neighbor's dilemma, and yet, I foresee the grass and weeds going to seed, then dry, lie down, die. That will be a pity. The greens however, have grown too long for a mower. What's needed is a scythe. Ha! Last time I saw a scythe in public it was in a picture of the grim reaper. There's got to be another, more friendly solution!

You may think this strange, but the next image that pops into my mind is that of a goat. My mother's goat Tilly was great at eating anything, from the leaves of the apple and pear trees in the orchard, to the contents of my mom's sewing kit. It wasn't that Tilly was just one hell of an obnoxious specimen of her species! I've come across more goats since my childhood and they all have a tendency to eat whatever is put in front of them, even if that something hangs supposedly out of sight or reach, they'll get to it. Ever seen pictures of goats in trees or on top of stools? What about the goats on the ledge of an overpass? Those were not Photoshop®ped images!

A few years back my husband some other folks and I helped a friend clear her property of bramble bushes. All the branches were cut, and thrown into the goat enclosure. Before we knew it, the pile was diminished to sticks and shoots without leaves. Goats can beat a lawnmower anytime, they can navigate uneven terrain, hey, the city of Seattle hired whole herds for exactly that reason!

A goat is the answer to weed and rambling bramble problem!

Would you hire a goat for a day from Healing Hooves LLC?

Previously published by DutchessAbroad as SeattleBlogger29 at Hotels by City Seattle Blog