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19 September, 2009


The Natural Resource Building in Olympia was built recently enough that the landscaping is rife with native species, many with edible fruits. Pretty good set on the berries this year (more salal than anything, but no complaints here), and it looks like there could be a decent amount of huckleberries (evergreen) once the frost makes 'em, tasty.

There's some kind of small tree that pumped out blueberry-ish fruit earlier in the summer. Not quite as tasty as regular blueberries, but good for fistfuls of sustenance as I walked to work. And of course the Himalayan blackberry is invading the plantings with its alien deliciousness. Although the NRB contains numerous experts on resource management, restoration ecology, and native plants, they're not the ones maintaining the landscape, and inevitably it has degraded from a native species perspective.

Still, not bad for a place where the 'pristine' native flora was wiped out more than a century ago, and I really appreciate that there are edible species to be had in the concrete jungle.

And I think I may be the only one, other than that hippie girl I saw gorging on salal berries last summer. She looked guilty for a second when she saw that I saw, then broke into a bluetoothed (finally, the word used as it should be) smile when she figured out that I was not The Man. Otherwise, I seem to be the only one feasting on the landscape bounty, and I make only the smallest dent. Most of the berries drop to the ground or even dry up on the plant.

Why? Maybe because people think berries from the market are good, or even those picked in the woods, but not if they come from a city. But I've watched for long enough to know there's no spray, and the plants are safe. Could be that food in unexpected places is invisible. Or maybe my shamelessness outpaces that of the other bipeds roaming around, who wouldn't want to be seen stooping and picking, risking the scorn of the smokers perched 25.1 feet from every door. Especially for salal or plain old blackberries. Only a newcomer would get excited about that.

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