Treasure in the Hedgerows

Over the last few weeks the combination of a wet Spring, sizzlingly hot Summer and some late summer rain seem to have resulted in bumper crops in the hedgerows. I’ve picked kilos of apples, blackberries, damsons and rosehips, and spent hours patiently creating jams, jellies, compote, crumbles and cordials.
As I’ve picked damson stones out of simmering jam, or peeled apples, or destalked rosehips, I’ve become completely immersed in each job, treasuring the wonders of Nature, and giving myself the treat of time away from the usual hustle and bustle. It’s been a gift on so many levels. First of all the gathering , which remains as delightful to me every year, a real excitement at the prospect of free treats; then the making, with smells that take me back over fifty years to my mother’s kitchen after a family blackberry pick; next the tasting, always delicious; and sometimes the storing, whether by preserving or freezing, but always with the prospect of a taste of Summer in the depths of Winter; and finally, the appreciation of all that is given to us by our beautiful world. So not only have I stocked my larder and started on my Christmas presents, but I have been truly present, embracing Nature’s gifts. What a wonderful way of honouring my need for self-care, that all-important “me time.”
I wrote this poem way back in 2011 – I still get that feeling of delight at this time of year!

Outside, a blue sky winks temptingly,
The day beckons.
The perfect quiet engulfs me
As I step into an autumn morn
No human sound, save my own breath,
Though joyful birdsong celebrates the dawn.
With light step I walk with purpose
My hopes are high – it’s time
And sure enough, I find what I am seeking
Described by Keats as “mellow fruitfulness.”
Yes, the berries have arrived!
Plumply glistening in the sunshine
Waiting to be gathered,
Some tantalisingly out of reach
And others begging to be picked.
I thank each bush for its gift.
The promise of creation stirs my inner self.
Along the lane the damsons call,
Velvety bloom upon their purple skin,
Like hanging jewels they catch my eye.
Bunches of elderberries join the fray,
Shiny black diamonds, dripping.
All are safely gathered in
And my day is suddenly filled
With the prospect of warm, fruity booty.
My heart says, “Thank you” for the pleasure
Of treasure in the hedgerows.

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