This afternoon I spent a merry hour wandering along a quiet country lane, with nothing but my own thoughts for company…picking blackberries as I walked.
The sun was warm on my back, the countryside was filled with the hum of bees, the deep moos of cattle and a few scattered bleatings of sheep. I walked and picked and listened to my thoughts.
Time alone like this is precious, Simon is at a football match all day with his brother, my phone will be quiet, in fact I walk having forgotten my phone and enjoy the freedom that I have no calls on my time other than the silent call of the next blackberry waiting to be picked. It comes off effortlessly in my hand and I drop it into the basket with all its purple comrades.
I love the late summer pleasure of blackberry picking and wondering what to make, then of course the enjoyment of eating what has been made.
A memory pops into my mind of an aftetnoon picking blackberries a few years ago. I had taken my dog Missie for company and was dreamily walking, and picking and wondering what I could make. Sitting down for tea later and taking a mouthful of something delicious, I was aware that something was missing and realized I had left the dog at the park….ooops!!! All turned out ok and she was fine, but this afternoon I left jess at home just in case wandering and thinking led to forgetfulness again.
One question I have each year is why are the best fruit always too high to reach?. I toy with the thought of pulling myself higher by holding a (slightly loose) piece of barbed wire but think better of it remembeing a recently fractured ankle…probably best.
On returning home,blackberries washed, I found this poem by Seamus Heaney and realized my blackberry picking afternoon has been a pleasure to many for a good many years.
for Philip Hobsbaum
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.
Happiness is ‘Picking Blackberries on a summers day!’ 🙂
Love Alison x