Monday, 26 August 2013

Last of the cherries, first of the berries...

A dreich and dreary Saturday (it felt like the beginning of Autumn) so our visit to a fund-raising garden fete wasn't quite what it might have been. But we said hello to some folk we know, bought a raffle ticket, admired the Heath Robinson-style props for the ancient trees in the garden, then headed off and got home mere minutes before the deluge began.

Sunday was, by contrast, hot and sunny, warming our forager's follicles... so, off we went with Trusty Foraging Stick (one of several walking sticks C acquired during his recuperation from breaking his leg the first year we moved here), a couple of empty containers, and a vague idea of where we were going. The cherries aren't finished by any means - there are still plenty to be had if one happens to be a bird, or more nimble-footed than we are, as they're all at the top of the trees. We nabbed the few that had been missed, and that weren't being enjoyed by wasps. Hardly enough to do anything useful with, so we ate them as we went. Anyone seeing our hands would have thought we'd murdered someone and buried them in a corner of the field...

Oh, but the blackberries! Thanks to the foraging map provided by the Transition group we found loads of them on a nearby industrial estate (goodness knows what's going into them to make them so big, but if I start to grow extra limbs, or develop superpowers, I'll know who to complain to... or thank...) In case you're thinking that they don't look that big, I took the photo after we'd spent 10 minutes picking them. They have already been transformed into half a dozen jars of jam. Yum.

It's weird wandering around an industrial estate on a Sunday - feels a bit like being in a disaster movie. One with zombies. Felt like we were being watched by doleful, rheumy eyes, weary and worryingly resentful after the hard slog of the previous week. But the only other human we came across was a chap who warned us that we'd get spiked by the blackberry bushes (I was, and I was being so careful) and told us that they're only cut back once the berries have all gone, and then the workers can double park on that space! I'd have thought all the employees would be out there picking away every day, so as not to let the berries go to waste, and to guarantee a parking spot.

We were slightly flummoxed when we passed these, but looking again at the foraging map, we think they might turn out to be walnuts when they grow up and get all wrinkly. From there we headed off to more familiar territory, just to see what might be ready in the next few weeks. We can look forward to more berries, of course, and there are plums and damsons just about ready to collect. I opened a jar of homemade damson chutney when everyone was here last weekend - just delicious - so I must make some more this year. Given, however, that I usually just bung in whatever I've managed to collect, there's no guarantee of repeat success. Lots of apple trees around and we found the particular tree we'd been searching for, which has unusual pear-shaped yellow apples which are sweet and good for eating straight from the tree.

Found one cherry tree dripping with a clear sap, and not in good shape, and later some other trees, their leaves riddled with black spot, which is a little worrying. Who deals with those open spaces? Who sorts out any diseases? Some blackberry bushes are fuzzed over and the fruit is dead, while others are still green and yet to produce edible fruit. Nature just seems so random sometimes! So speaketh a (bewildered) child of the city...

Nevertheless, the fields were filled with crops just waiting their turns to be harvested, the sun was shining down on us, and it was good to be out just walking and laughing - another lovely day.

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