Driveway food for the ages


It’s a bumper crop for driveway food at the Murray house. Running along the southwest edge of the driveway – just this side of the abandoned basketball hoop and not to be confused with the (presumably) non-edible weeds dominating the rest of the driveway – is a burgeoning row of wild strawberries.

They’ve been there for the past few years, producing the odd, punky fruit. But this year there’s quite a bounty. So much so that I can actually hunker down and graze – which must look from street view as if I’ve developed a sudden appetite for gravel. It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the neighbours have seen.

The strawberries themselves are tiny and sweet (coincidentally how I was described in my high school yearbook). And if my theory is right, they’re resilient little buggers.

Apparently if you went back more than 25 years – before we owned the place – you might have seen strawberries all over this property. You might also have seen the home’s owner, a sweet lady by all reports, out cutting her grass with scissors. Adorable but inefficient (coincidentally how I was described in my last performance review).

By the time we moved here in ’95, there wasn’t a strawberry in sight. Aggressive grass and (let’s be honest) weeds took over, and, with a lawnmower replacing the scissors, the berries probably didn’t stand a chance.

There were also kids. Not just ours but a street full, and they all seemed to congregate here. With games of Ghost, Knock-Out and All-Purpose Tattling, any fruit plants were good and trampled. I believe during this era we actually managed to kill mint.

But the basketball hoop has laid on its side for some time, and the running around is limited mainly to cats these days, as the kids have all grown up or moved away. Add to this our general lawn-care nonchalance (lawn-chalance), and suddenly the strawberries were back in business.

Actually, there’s another reason: my wife won’t kill anything. If there are flowering weeds on our lawn (and by “if,” I mean “when”), Deb will mow around them, creating impromptu garden patches (and by “patches,” I mean “patches”). Thus the border of weeds and (it turns out) strawberries along the driveway.

She’s the same with the trees. In 2012, an early snowstorm took out one of our young maples. One of the three main branches snapped beyond salvage, but the other two refused to die, mostly because Deb wouldn’t let them. Even when our neighbour, an arborist, declared the tree good and dead, Deb insisted on giving it a chance.

Today, it is a twisted, malformed presence on our front lawn (coincidentally how I’m often described by my neighbours). It’s grown taller and taller but the trunk hasn’t widened much to support it, making me worry it’s going to snap some day, probably on our neighbour’s car, which is bad karma for an arborist.

Last winter we lost another tree, an apple, likewise to early snow. It broke off at the base of the trunk, leaving only a small section intact. Naturally, we propped it, staked it and tied it to see if it would heal over the winter. But come spring it was clear: it was dead. Even Deb had to admit it, so I cut it down.

And yet, from the base of the trunk, a new shoot is growing, green and healthy and ready to carry on where its parent tree left off.

The other day, I sat on my porch and looked up our ordinary, residential street, and all I could see were leaves and branches, nothing but green – as long as I didn’t look down at the yellow dog-pee stains on our lawn, nothing but green! On one little street, all this teeming plant life, just patiently growing, biding the dormant seasons, then growing some more.

Or the strawberries by the driveway that have been hanging around for more than 25 years waiting to populate the property again. How resilient they are!

Maybe it was the long winter or the crummy spring or the fact that we’re at peak green right now, before the yellowing effect of the summer’s heat and drought, but I feel hopeful. I feel that, despite all the damage and negligence we’ve thrown at this planet, patient nature will find a way to survive. And when it does, I hope I’m there to eat the driveway berries.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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23 Responses to Driveway food for the ages

  1. Tis the season. We’ve left a patch of wild strawberry take over the lawn – it grows exponentially, which is great – neither my hubby nor I much enjoy mowing. And hopefully, the wild berries will distract the robins from the cultivated patch.

    Lawn-chalance – I’ll notify Webster if you haven’t already – GREAT word!

  2. franhunne4u says:

    I really do hope you are arounx much longer.

  3. franhunne4u says:

    The X is my way of acknowledging youx live in a French speaking province of Canada. 😊Or it was my fatfingersyndrome showing its ugly head, your choice.

  4. pinklightsabre says:

    You Canadians and your trees. And performance reviews, I like that.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Was going over old posts (putting together another collection) and looking at comments. A lot of dead bloggers (sadly, literally dead in at least one case) littering the path. Thanks for hanging in there.

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Yeah of course, I cherish your friendship here too, man. Funny I was thinking about cherry picking some of my old ones too, for August (10-year blog anniversary).

        • rossmurray1 says:

          I’ve done two with erstwhile one-and-done publishers. I’m just going to self-publish this one and ship it around locally. It helps to have a small regional following. But if nothing else, you have something concrete to hold onto.

  5. Here in the dog-pee-stained U.S., a bit of weeding, lopping, and dead-heading in the next election, and we’ll get back to showing more respect for the planet.
    I’d seen you and your maple tree featured in ads for The Canadian School of Bonsai, when you shared the Gumby Award for Resilience & Bouncy Adjectives. Beamish essay, a twisted & malformed presence you may be, but I appreciate the hopefulness and faith in nature.

  6. Yahooey says:

    The presumption is safest. There are a lot of edible weeds. The others tend to be deadly.

  7. ksbeth says:

    what a stunning example of unequaled resiliance. the wild berries were just biding their time before it was safe to appear again. they were never really gone, just chose to move under the radar and make themselves scarce, until the time was right. I like that you’ve taken this as a sign of hope, for all of us, that we can survive, no matter the circumstances, and may just have to hang under the radar for a bit, at least until the next American election. if you ever peer out your window and see zombies gathered around your drive, picking in the gravel patch, it means the apocalypse is here and they have discovered your secret food source. not to worry.

  8. cat9984 says:

    We have wild strawberries too. Unfortunately, the bunnies, deer, groundhogs, and assorted others are much more observant about watching them ripen, so we never get to eat them.

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