Black Harvest Sunday 29.08.2021

I have been picking from the hedgerows in passing and enjoying a tasty mouthful, not meaning to gather, just participating in a share of the abundance. I notice that the Blackberries are shrinking into little purple nuts on the vine and I so decide to gather some while they are juicy in the sun. Too often blackberries are lost to mush in the rain and this year the unusual expanse of sunny August days has led to a plumping and ripening in huge abundance. As I pick my fingers purple, their tips pricked with tiny spines, there’s an absence of wasps but as I reach out I trace the movement of shield beetles as they amble shyly away . In one bush there’s a flutter of wings as I disturb a blackbird and spiders have been slinging their nets every where, for whatever might come their way. Bramble vines spill from every edge, their castings prickled with tall nettles and thorns snagging on my bare skinned legs, sun drying the blood before it trickles far, hair switched by the thorny combs, I fill one tub then another, then another, coming from the West facing fence on the path through Sunview East, to the South facing edges of the football field where I also gather some of the plumpest hips from the Rosa rugosa, they are so ripe, skin so transparent they have the appearance of vials of wine, I go to the South facing hills over the ponds and on to the West and South facing edges of the High Meadow, where I pull in a couple of scant heads of Elder’s berries. The Elders are not so much in evidence and I fear they have been over picked in flowering season. I look up high and see some berries dangling from their parasols safely beyond my reach.

Back home with my booty I was thinking to do jam, curious about the pectin element in the rosehips I wanted to try out JG(the botanist)’s tip for setting bramble, and other jams – google informs me there is 0 pectin in a hip but JG insists otherwise. I gather some windfall apples from beneath my tree I chop the hips, looking out for the itchy fibres but don’t encounter any in the halving, one recipe for jam would have me scooping out the seeds, but I decide to leave them in, as perhaps these were the pectin part. I pour the the hoard into pans, including that tender spray of elderberry from the meadow, I add some water and bring the pots to simmer. After a while of minutes I scoop up all the matter and drain the juices through some netty cloth and leave it hanging overnight. This morning I decide there are not so many jam eaters in my circle, and so I switch to making hedgerow cordial. The pectin experiment will have to wait for another opportunity. I have made 3 bottles of Glen Hedgerow Cordial and I’m smiling. Bounty from the Glen.

scattering at the Prosto bench

Other kinds of bounty by the Prosto Bench.

Published by @julforres

Julie Forrester, artist based in Cork City Ireland

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