ALL OF THE WILD FRUIT OF AUTUMN

– gets kids to walk and mouths water

“There are lots of hurts up here that you can pick and eat.”  I had made the huge mistake of saying we were going for a walk in the woods.  I should have said “we are going to pick berries in the woods”.

Now I was desperately trying to back track.  The growled response indicated I wasn’t having much success.

The first bushes had no berries.  Things were bad.  Luckily I hadn’t said what I was looking for.  They didn’t know what I was searching for.

Three and a half year old Sarah is the essential greedy magpie.  Maybe that should be industrious squirrel.  She is a throw back to an earlier time when everything had a use.

She had Scots pine cones in one hand, bits of branches in the other.  Everything was interesting. The promise of food was a bonus – a very important bonus.

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But for her 8 year old cousin Ronan, for whom the sun rises and sets on lego and computer games, going outdoors with adults was suspect from the beginning.

To be fair he does like the outdoors – on his own, or with other youngsters of his own age, in his own time he goes out regularly.  And runs and jumps while he thinks and talks lego and computer.

On his bicycle or with some other diversion was fine.  But his bike was at home in Reno in Nevada.  So not having berries immediately was an extra challenge.

Field grasses now have full seed heads.  Pulling one of these through gaps in teeth leaving a mouth full of grass seed behind was a great diversion … especially if that was an adult mouth.

Fourteen year old Nessa, the third of the triumverate of grandchildren, in a world between children and adults, a world that might be ‘boring’ or wander from one side of the fence to the other.

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Looking at the colourful rain jackets of my four fellow walkers I wondered if the disposition of all four could only be as colourful.  It will happen.  In time. Hopefully.

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At last a clump of hurt bushes with a rich crop of berries.  The two youngest members picked and ate and picked and ate and picked and ate.  They had to be dragged away.

These days the brambles are showing more and more fully ripe blackberries.  The king of the wild fruits.  Eaten straight from the bush.  To remind you of the ecstasy I have included the photo of Sarah taken a year ago.

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Fresh blackerries mashed up with cream or ice cream – an ideal refreshment while watching Kerry play Dublin on Sunday.  Blackberry and apple tart, pie, jam.  If you haven’t eaten don’t deny yourself any longer.

As well in these coming weeks … crab apples and rowan berries, hazel and Spanish chestnuts, mushrooms.  More about all of those in the weeks ahead.

Frank Lewis

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