artratcafe CAFE – Berry Picking Memories 2 – Blackberries…

This is my second post of childhood memories, picking berries in England.  Today I remember the wild blackberry: (All due credits at end of post)

When I was a child my dad was on the road all week, so during late summer holiday weekdays mum and I would often take our bikes into the nearby countryside to pick wild blackberries.

I can still see mum, headscarf and skirt flapping in the warm breeze, with her berry bag over her shoulder and singing as we peddled our heavy old bikes through the green Somerset lanes.

Blackberries were everywhere and so were pickers, so we often had to search awhile away from town to find unpicked bushes, but when we did it didn’t take long to fill our bags, even though we also filled our dyed mouths with the mellifluous, ripe fruit. Then covered in sunburn, scratches and blackberry juice we cycled home, sore and weary, but triumphant.

The weight of our berry bags and our tired legs occasionally resulted in spills, as in one afternoon, both unbalanced and a little dizzy from a glass of cider at the village pub, I cycled too close to mum’s bike and we both went over in a tangled mess of squashed and spilled berries and flailing limbs. Sitting askew on the roadside after the initial shock, we looked at each other and at our new but innocuous wounds and burst into juicy laughter that rose up through the branches of ancient oaks and dispersed amongst the patches of blue sky above us.

The berries from these outings ended up in blackberry pies eaten with clotted cream at weekends, when dad was home, and in homemade jam that lasted us for many months– the jars and fruit radiating summer sun during the bleak, damp, grey days of our English winter.

August by Mary Oliver

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking                                                                                                  of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body                                                                              accepts what it is.  In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among                                                                        the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

Image Credits: All from Google Images. Final image: Blackberries in Basket painting by August Laux.

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30 thoughts on “artratcafe CAFE – Berry Picking Memories 2 – Blackberries…

    • Yes, I must have eaten a hundred as a child, mum baked the supremo A and B tart. There were orchards near where we lived and we gleaned the falls – so sweet and crispy…

    • My goodness, you have been taking an extensive hike through my posts – I am honoured by your attention. My mum’s family were Wiltshire people – sadly I never explored that county as I was still young when I lived in England and when I traveled I was attracted by the sun and adventure of southern France and Spain. Now I wish I knew the England of my family better…

  1. Balckberries are ready now in the dunes here. I leave them for the birds but they do look good, great colour :)
    It was nice to read this posting. It reminded me of the pine apples we would gather in Autumn to burn in the (coal) heater! Loads of them… :)

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