How did this simple word elude me all these decades? It refers to a strip of land or grass, a bank, or a terrace bordering a river, canal or road.  Or an embankment, such as one built as a defence against tanks. Or a slim space between a ditch and the base of a parapet. From French berme, and Dutch berm.  ‘Berms of the road.’

Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 393

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