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I did my favorite (not) task yesterday: cleaned out the Himalayan blackberry thicket. I call it “freeing Sleeping Beauty.” While other locations I have occupied space in (i.e. the Southeast) have poison ivy, copperheads, and kudzu, the HB (Rubus armeniacus) is arguably the most challenging wild thing I deal with here. (Well, and the dastardly moles; getting rid of them is another hopeless cause.) It is an aggressive noxious weed with stout canes and wicked thorns that form an impenetrable thicket (think Prince Charming) and have a significant impact on native vegetation and wildlife. And there is almost no chance of eradicating it. And did I mention the dead canes are even nastier than the live ones?

This particular thicket is mostly only a problem for the magnificent man who mows the meadow, but it has gotten out of control. It has gotten out of control because I always wait to tackle it until it’s too hot to wear heavy clothes, and it can’t be done without donning heavy clothes. And so I only cut away at the edge and leave the rest to grow—40 feet up into the trees and out into the meadow to grab the hapless passerby.

It was not my intention to dive in yesterday. I cleared a trailhead from storm blowdown then headed to the corner of the thicket to remove another impediment to mower and trail access, and was going to call it a day. Then, there were the blackberries. I had on the right clothes (though I could have used face armor, I snagged my nose twice, lip, and cheek), the wheelbarrow, and the loppers. Might as well just do it.

Once I started, I was determined to finish; I did not want to come back to it. I filled the wheelbarrow twice and was ready to call it done. Until I realized I could now access the farther back vines and get all of it out of the trees. Ugh. I filled the wheelbarrow again. And now it is done. Next year it won’t be so hard. Maybe. It grows more than 25 feet in a season.

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