This weekend was warm and bright with a lovely crispness to the air that reminds us autumn is here. A maple in the fields turned deep red almost over night and many of the trees round about are starting to develop patches of fiery finery. We planted hyacinth and daffodil bulbs in pots ready to bring indoors later in the season to cheer the dark winter months. Big Dreamer cut the lawn and Little Owl and I tackled the weeds. Due to a complete lack of even moderate success I’ve given up on growing winter bedding from seed so instead we went to our local garden centre to buy some plug plants. Some cheery pansies to liven up a grey winter’s day are a psychological necessity in Scotland.
We also headed out to find some blackberries for Big Dreamer’s latest batch of homebrew. Blackberries don’t grow anywhere on the farm and I’ve yet to find them anywhere else in the valley. It’s something I don’t understand because I tend to think of them doing well in all sorts of sites, from rural hedgerows to urban wasteland. We have plenty of wild raspberries but no blackberries. I even bought some plants from the garden centre. One died and while the other is alive, it isn’t any bigger than when I put it in so can hardly be said to be thriving.
So we motored out to some recommended spots, which of course, everyone else knows about too. I had been hoping for enough to make a crumble as well as the homebrew but the bushes had been well and truly gleaned. We came home with only a handful but lots of bright plump rosehips, which Big Dreamer intends to try instead. Still, I was disappointed. Of all the summer fruits, blackberries always seem the most comforting to me. Perhaps it’s because they appear so much later in the season, when thoughts turn to comforting fires in the grate and frosty mornings. And of course there is this image from The Tale of Peter Rabbit, imprinted on every child’s mind. Flopsy, Mospy, and Cotton-tail are the ultimate symbol of comfort and smugness as they tuck into their bread, milk and blackberries, while Peter is put to bed and fed camomile tea one tablespoon at a time. It’s only now, as an adult, that I think what an odd concoction they were having for their supper. Was it all mixed up together like a pudding or did they eat each bit separately? I’d sooner have had gently steaming crumble with custard. Mmmm!