Blackberry time already

A week of occasional flashes of hot sun but there’s been some torrential rain and with the wind starting to blow leaves around it’s already feeling autumnal, not like mid-August at all. However, there is an upside; the hedgerows that line our footpaths are full of bounty – damsons, sloes and the best blackberry harvest for years. 

The daily dog walk is now a foraging expedition; and much in mind are next month’s events in the Barn, including the world’s Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support – so some homemade Barn produce will help the fund-raising along. Put Friday 30th September in your diary now, and come along to the barn for coffee, cake and blackberry jam.

Blackberry picking by Seamus Heaney

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.