Along the western slopes of the Cascades, from British Columbia through the Puget Sound trough and into the Willamette Valley of Oregon.... on the otherwise barren pleistocene soils of clay and pebbly outwash plains.... carpeting the waste ways, the empty abandon lots, and the ends of dead end streets.... lining the railroad tracks and the ditches of old farm roads with names like Red Barn, Poultry Farm, and Powerline.... there exists.... NO! .... thrives!.... is a better word.... canes. Millions of miles of canes, sticker bushes, brambles.... blackberries!
Himalayan blackberries (Rubus procerus) (and others) are not hesitant in aggressively possessing the border lands of old used car lots, and the back sides of strip malls. They take refuge amongst other common northwest flora, like the alder and the scotch broom. The hillsides of freeway interchanges as well as the local squire's chain link fence.... are not immune from their invasive attitude. In fact the region could very well be a botanical simile for that old Dylan song...indeed... it's like it's all tangled up in blue, and green, and black, and red.... blackberries.
This presentation treats of the free and the sweet.... the blackberry.... noxious scourge to some, free comfort food to others. Debussy's Claire de Lune, provides the sound to augment the feeling one gets scratching up your hands, arms and legs getting at those "big black clumps" just out of reach.
Unfortunately the olfactory component can't be virtually supplied. However, suffice to say....perhaps... if "Claire de Lune" could smell like anything....(subjectively for me anyway) its essence might run close to the effusion caused by the soft purple fragrance of sweet, ripe blackberries...wafting through the cool-warm breeze of an early autumn in the damp western shadows of the Cascades. Mixed with a whiff of eau du tide flats, the pitchy perfume of the alder, and that dusty tincture only Scotch Broom can deliver, this potion makes for a blackberry hunter's balm, that heals even the vilest of sticker wounds. Pie and coffee to follow.
Dr. M. Mustoe
Geographer Eastern Oregon University
21 June 2009