ESCANABA - They have invaded the neighborhood.
They've taken over the fields and forests.
Twisty, turny vines scale the fence and spring out into the neighbor's yard. Tall soldiers in green uniforms stand at attention under the August moon.
Karen Wils photo
A tired little gardener rests while the squash vines close in.
Battle lines are drawn. Tomato cages, trellises, beanpoles and garden stones separate the onslaught of vegetation at the peak of the growing season.
It is really interesting to ride around town or in the country and notice Goliath sized sunflowers, spears of gladiolus, brambles of blackberry bushes, and pumpkin vines all competing for their place in the sun.
Sometimes the garden overflows on to the lawn and the rain-drenched hollyhocks hang over the sidewalk.
The peak of the growing season is a gardener's time of pride and joy. After days of tilling, planting, weeding, and watering, at last a tomato ripens, the corn tassels out, and the carrots are ready to pull.
Keeping a kitchen garden has long been a Yooper tradition. Now, after decades of insecticides, pesticides and chemical additives, experts are telling us that homegrown is better for us. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are healthier for us. Locally grown produce, fresh and free of preservatives is all the rage.
Our grandparents and great-grandparents were right all along when they kept a few chickens, planted a vegetable garden and picked as many wild berries and apples as they could. Natural is healthy.
For a while it wasn't cool to be digging in the dirt, but now that has gone full circle. Even First Lady Michelle Obama has a veggie garden on the White House lawn.
On the newsstand magazines like "Organic Gardening," "Mother Earth News" and "Martha Stewart Living" have cover photos with cornucopias of lush vegetation.
Raised bed gardens are a clever new way to make gardening fit into any backyard plans and designs for simple to elaborate raised bed garden are found in many books and magazines and online.
My family and I are enjoying a raised bed garden that we divided into equal parts. We have a section to care for. It's easier to weed and work the soil because it's higher up. Some fun competition has begun. Whose part will grow the biggest pumpkin or the tallest sunflower?
Now is the time to take a walk or a ride around and look at all of the lovely green and growing things in your neck of the woods. Gardens don't get much prettier than this. The wild plant life doesn't get any more awesome than in August.
So if your cucumbers are creeping into the alley and your morning glories are growing into your sun porch window, admire their spunk and determination.
Upper Michigan's growing season may be short, but it's an awesome one.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of North Escanaba. Her folksy columns appear each Friday in Lifestyles,