Thursday, 29 August 2013

Berry Picking As It Began

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
for a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots
where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
we trekked and picked until the cans were full,
until the tinkling bottom had been covered
with green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
the fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
Blackberry Picking, by Seamus Heaney, via 1

The Outfit:
Vintage 1970s does 1930s Ruffle Dress: from Ebay.
Blue Lace Up Soft Leather Sandals: old from the sale at Toast
The Soundtrack
Johann Pachelbel: Canon & Gigue in D Major 
All photographs taken by Mr Eve and myself as we started to pick the tayberries (a cross between raspberries and blackberries), the raspberries and the blackcurrants in our two fruit cages this August. They're now all picked, and have been turned by me over the last month into summer puddings, crumbles, cakes, ice creams and jams. For inspiration see my baking blog. Boy were those berries tasty! 
 I am delighted to be a part of the next Visible Monday, hosted by the lovely Patti from Not Dead Yet Style, click on the website link to see her outfit and those of many others.
You'll notice I've removed the patchwork background to this blog, to give it a cleaner look which hopefully shows off the photographs to greater effect. What do you think, do you like it like this?


  1. Never has it been done with more beauty or ethereal elegance, dear gal. I adore berry picking! It always whisks me straight back to memories of doing so in my paternal grandparents little backyard garden when I was growing up. They grew the plumpest, loveliest raspberries I've ever tasted (I swear, theirs are the reason raspberries remain my favourite fruit to this day), and ever once in a while, for an extra special treat, grandma would whip some up into one of her heavenly trifles. So yummy! :)

    Have a marvelous long weekend, dear gal!

    ♥ Jessica

  2. That's what we need, cages. Those pesky wood pigeons have munched their way through this year's crop of blueberries and redcurrants and I'm determined to get to the wild blackberries at the bottom of the garden first!
    That dress is a beauty. xxx

  3. How stylish picking!
    And yummy for berries!

  4. Gorgeous dress - I would have got berry juice all over it, if it were me! How lovely to have all that fresh fruit, and to make such deliciousness with it.
    The blog layout looks great - I know some people are adamant that a plain white background is best but I don't mind what people do with their blogs, it's their choice, and I would hate them all to look the same! xxx

  5. How wonderful to pick fresh berries! I'm a bit jealous!


  6. I've seen such berries (tayberries) here in Nepal but had no idea about their name. I actually thought they are of Asian species. How wonderful it is to have a berry garden of your own. As always you look charming!

  7. Emalina, I so admire your wonderfully spacious berry cage system. How beautiful when a crop comes to fruition. You are tremendously elegant in that lovely gown - like Curtise, I'd have it not only berry-blotched but snagged to pieces in short order, lol. I love the perfect accompaniment of this Seamus Heaney poem on the fleeting deliciousness of it all, just at the time of his passing.

  8. I bet the berries are delighted to be picked by your beautiful hands, my dearest Emalina.
    Your delicate dress and the abundance of fruit is a true delight.
    Have a lovely weekend, my dear friend.

  9. Emalina, I love this!! I am trying very hard not to be jealous of your cages. My gardening world has transitioned into houseplants at the moment...

    But some day I hope to have a little cottage with the gardens of my dreams.

    I am in love with that picture of you that shows you leaning forward and the lovely wave in your hair. Would you allow me to share it on my blog?


  10. Could there be a more perfect dress for wafting around in a fruit cage, picking tayberries??
    I've loved this poem ever since I first read it, maybe 4 years ago. The images that have stayed most vivid for me are: "...sweet /like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it", and, "where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots". (In fact, I'm sure I once titled a blog post with the latter quote).
    It is of course now so much more poignant reading Heaney's poem after yesterday's sad news

  11. Oh, we all seem to be in Heaney remembrance mode. In fact, I am just now reading his entirely readable translation of Beowulf (I forget who did the version I read back in 7th Grade). Lovely of you to post this accompanied by Pachelbel's Canon in D. And it's amazing that you are berry picking right now too. We have been harvesting our apple tree raining huge apples in the backyard! The deer are getting to eat more fallen apples than I'm able to make into apple crumbles and apple pies. Dreamy dress for floating around your fruit cages. -- J xx

  12. yummy i love berries, so i´m a bit jelous you have them in your garden;) and what a beautiful fairy frock again!

  13. lovelylovelylovely ... i love berries and i love those beautiful photos.

  14. Look at all your berries! Tayberries? - this is the first time I've heard of those. They sound scrumptious. Mr V and I love blackberry picking and haven't been for ages. Gorgeous dress! You look like an ethereal fairy amongst the berry canes.

  15. A beautiful dress for berry picking! Like V, I hadn't heard of tayberries. I remember picking gooseberries as a child and always looked forward to the rituals of the season.

    I love the look of your blog today!


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