I have always wanted to get into foraging and I guess the simplest first step is to pick berries. I am surrounded by hedgerows filled with Brambles and so I have spent the last few weeks collecting Blackberries. It has been fun walking along hedgerows in my fields with my young nephew picking out the juiciest and best looking Berries, but of course leaving plenty for the local wildlife to feast on. I soon realized how much work goes into picking a small amount of berries, and even more work getting them cleaned before eating. It was amazing to do this all with my nephew, he pointed out the best berries, I picked them and he put them into our bucket. It was such a fun activity for both of us and something that we will want to do again and again, especially because we got to see lots of Butterflies, Ladybirds and Birds around the hedgerows.
With our Blackberries, we washed and froze them before using them for baking. We made an Apple and Blackberry upside-down cake and an Apple and Blackberry Crumble, both of which were very simple and very tasty. All of the left over berries that either got a little too squished or were not as ripe as I thought when picking, went straight to my goat who was very happy with her treat. I only wish that I had went out and picked even more so I could have a good stock in my freezer, but it is only a few days until Michaelmas and folklore says that it is unlucky to pick Blackberries after this date as they are spat on by the Devil. I doubt there is any truth in this, but I have noticed the berries are not at their best at the minute so I shall sadly have to wait until next year.
While I have been out walking in the last few weeks I have been identifying the subtle signs of Autumn. Firstly, the obvious indicator of colour changing leaves. I have found some trees with beautiful tones of yellow and orange filtering through their canopy layers. Secondly, the leaves are starting to fall and add to the ground litter. As I was out for a walk last night, the winds were strong, and the leaves floated and danced along the footpath beside me. Thirdly, the trees and shrubs have began to bear their fruit. This indicator of Autumn seems to be the most prominent at the minute as it is everywhere I look. I am spotting berries I have never seen before, and I quickly snap photos so I can identify them later. So far, I have found; Blackberries, Sloe berries, Hawthorn, Rowan, Bittersweet, Lords-And-Ladies and Elder. All of which boast beautiful red or black tones.
Whilst this bloom of berries throughout my local landscapes are beautiful and appreciated They also come with a warning. Or at least if your superstitious enough it does. My parents told me that an Autumn that brings lots of berries, especially so early in the season is a warning for bad weather to come. They say that nature is preparing for a cold Winter and produces more berries to compensate for lack of food during the next few months. This means that birds and other animals that feast on berries can indulge during this bounty while it lasts.
Is it possible for nature to predict the weather in the coming months? Do you think this is just an old Irish myth or is there any truth to it?
I suppose we will just have to wait and see what Winter brings us.