Some towns have four seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall. Ashland has five seasons: winter, spring, summer, blackberry and fall.
Right now, we are in the glorious season of blackberry. Around the middle of August to late September, prickly brambles bear their sweet fruit, attracting everyone from hard-core pickers decked out with leather gardening gloves and high boots to overfed deer.
Blackberries are good any way you want them, whether it's using them to make a sweet jam, throwing them in the freezer for when your cereal needs a kick in the winter or eating them straight off the vine.
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Sour blackberries can be pretty nasty, but getting the perfect, sweet blackberry makes it all worth it. Sour ones resist when you try to pick them while ripe ones fall right off.
Most everyone loves blackberries, including animals. Blackberries are not toxic to dogs, so feel free to reward your pooch with a organic, low-calorie treat.
One of the best blackberry-picking spots is the Bear Creek Greenway next to the Ashland Dog Park off West Nevada Street. Brambles grow alongside the paved bike path and will give you something to chew on while you wander.
Helman Elementary School's lawn at 705 Helman St. is another great spot to find blackberries, but there are two caveats: It's popular so you will probably have to share with other pickers, and it's not accessible when classes are in session.
Another school with blackberries is Willow Wind Community Learning Center at 1497 E. Main St. People can battle with deer for the brambles along the driveway on weekends and other days when the school is closed.
Amelia Covert Zeve is an Ashland-based writer who explores the outdoors and chronicles her adventures for publications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.