Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Bramble Pickers

This is the time of year to gather wild fruits. Mushrooms grow in woods, seaweed and mussels along the shore, hazelnuts, brambles and elderberries in hedgerows, blaeberries on moorland... Given the riches out there, the question begged is - why does nobody gather them?

The answer is because our lives are dominated by pre-packaged things from supermarkets. We will interact with nature in a certain way - wetsuited, with a GPS and a blow-up sleeping mattress - but the ultimate act is to put something wild into your mouth. No pasteurisation. No Best Before date. No statutory rights. No guarantee. It terrifies our modern soul - yet satisfies something older.

But the one thing we will eat is brambles.
Sweet brambles,
dark and luscious
have drawn me in.
Sharp thorns
hold me.

Now I cannot leave
without tearing
Angus Dunn - Desire

Brambles grow in profusion along roads and country paths. Unlike mushrooms, they cannot be confused for anything else. Everyone knows what a bramble is. If you are scared to drink water from a stream and terrified of picking a mushroom, you know where you are with a bramble. At the weekend, we gathered enough for a crumble and some jam - our hands a mess of thorn scars and nettle stings, red bramble juice dark as dried blood.

Earlier I quoted Angus Dunn, a Rossshire man whose writing has ripened into High Country, a poetry anthology published by Sandstone Press. Yet this moment of fecundity is also the moment of his premature death. You've probably never heard of Angus - why should you? Poetry can take a bit of effort. A bit like foraging in the woods. Well, I will leave you with some more Angus I have picked for you just for this occasion. It is up to you if you want to add more to your basket.

Last Look
Not an ounce on her more
than was needed to cover
her bones.
Her mouth open in sleep,
she looked like a fledgling -
just as she should look,
ready for where she's going.


Allison Simpson said...

We have had blackberry pie, blackberry crumble, blackberry and baked apple for the last 3 Sundays. I agree nobody forages any more but then that leaves more for those that do :)

Robert Craig said...

Allison - my mouth is watering!