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August in way, far northcoast California reminds one more of early spring rather than the sweltering summer most inland lands endure. Spring’s calendar arrival brought days of drizzles and more than desired downpours but eventually clear skies and bright sunshine replaced retreating clouds and dreariness. It fostered predilections towards soil preparation for squash, beans and chard and necessitated a rousing of the lawnmower. Soon aesthetics of a trim lawn and a newly planted garden draws one’s senses to a preference for working outside rather than the close walls of indoors.

Photo by Kim Dennison

Things to do thinned down from large projects to minor detailed maintenance, a weed to pull here, a little shrub to trim there. Oh, what else to do? A glance around the little attended to side of the house revealed a small jungle of wildflowers , ferns and calla lilies. Long days of late season rains followed by sudden sunshine spurred an abundance of growth in our forgotten little side yard. Thriving on neglect, this narrow space created a carpet of yellow and orange flowers, flared bell-shaped blossoms reaching the tops of the worn white-washed fence. Bees float from bell to bell, legs bulging with yellow pollen. And peeking from around the back corner, a single blackberry vine. Where one berry vine shows more are most definitely promised beyond.

Photo by Kim Dennison

Photo by Kim Dennison

Around the corner, peering down a long corridor of growth blackberries abound, plump and ready to fall off their vines with a touch. Picking our way through we pluck the fruit from their hanging places, fingers stained purple, palms and forearms pricked and scratched from unforgiving thorns. The efforts and slight injury of collection are well worth any pains. The reward, of course, juicy, sweet, tangy succulence.

August spring in far north California may present a longer wait than other places for such little surprises, for those found treasures among neglected parts. It’s an almost welcome trade-off. A deal made with the weather, with the cool, coastal rains in return for a bartered exchange of isolated, little, urban forests of lush green, wild color, ancient ferns and immense redwoods all within arms reach of one’s backdoor.