In my ideal city there would always be berry brambles growing along the road.  And unclaimed fruit trees.  In fact, it would be an unspoken social obligation to maintain a strip of frontage with some refreshment for whoever passes by.  Some place to throw the bike down and yourself onto the cool green grass.

If not a hedge of blueberries, maybe just a patch of wild strawberry.  Or a swathe of arugula growing in the shade. Or cucumbers scrambling up a trellis.  Or a water fountain rigged up from a garden hose.  Or even just a wooden bench beneath a wind-chime that makes the sound of water . . .

Of course being the kind of creatures that we are, this kind of grassroots hospitality would immediately lead to lawsuits and excessive governmental oversight.

Rude!  You plant strawberries when I am so allergic to strawberries!

I have to inform you, ma’am, that you are in violation of code 732FZ – the only kind of blackberries allowed are the thornless.  And only one of these three non-invasive varieties listed on the website.

In my ideal city there wouldn’t be this kind of squabble.

Except there would be people.  And I’m not sure people and squabble can ever be entirely separated.  Even in an ideal city.

Maybe in the ideal city.  Maybe.

But in the interim, I go out early, take the dog  (quoting Emily Dickinson who always has so much to say about the kinds of things that always happen) and expect to be surprised by the blackmarket “Hsst-over-here!”  scent of ripening blackberries dangling from unlicensed brambles arcing up, thrusting thuggishly up through the sweet cream-soda froth of Queen Anne’s lace at the roadside.

This week, for the first time since this same time last year, blackberries are sprawling either side of the city limits, setting up places of refuge without a city ordinance, drawing blood from unsuspecting passersby, enticing people with places to go off the path.

Grumbled at, weed-whacked, mowed down but never quite wholeheartedly eradicated by anyone because everyone, being the kind of creatures that we are, secretly admires and desires . . .

. . . this juicy rebellion against regulation, this unruly regularity that brings such unpaid-for unvoted-on sweetness glimmering so beautifully black, as lusciously deep as a deeper spot of shade and right when and where we need it at the end of a long hot hill . . .

. . . at the end of summer.

thanks, Nicole, for the question:

“What word do you like?”


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