The blackberry season is almost over. It came with great abundance and lingered long beyond its usual span. But now the fruit is squishy on the bramble and almost too fragile to pluck.
Thus another blackberrying season has come and gone without the involvement it merits. The promise to oneself to carry containers on the next walk along the lanes and fill them with this luscious fruit has once again come to nought. And with it has gone the vow to transform this fresh and free harvest into jams and desserts and, above all, into that king of puds, a blackberry and apple pie to be served with dollops of clotted cream.
Why do we let such simple pleasures pass us by? These are the foundations upon which happy childhood memories are built to last a lifetime. Excursions along the hedgerows with mum and dad are still recalled and greatly treasured. They, of course, did the gathering into jars and raffia bags; I worked a less productive roster of one for the pot and one for me, the deep blue stains on lips and fingers being testimony to my sampling.
There would be a picnic around a small camp fire with tea or soup from a Thermos to reward and refresh us before pedalling home, often via a farm to buy the apples for the pies and jams that mum prepared for winter storage.
Everyone had their secret blackberry plot where they claimed the fruit would be at its most bulbous and juicy. The brambles would be well stripped until the berries remaining were accessible only to those with the longest arms or a rake to drag the vines closer.
Now the delights of blackberrying seem to be enjoyed by few. These days the fruit is left to waste and wither on the bush and what costs nothing to gather on a country stroll is “picked” from a supermarket shelf in return for money.
And childhood memories will be of what?
Next year I will go blackberrying.