Our family has always enjoyed a love affair with berries, particularly blackberries. As recorded in my book ‘ice creams’ my old Kent Nan in East Peckham grew almost every kind of berry and I loved to go harvesting with her. I remember picking blackberries being a family affair when we lived in Redruth, Cornwall. Arriving in Australia we had the most humongous Mulberry tree in the Wimmera town of Nhill. We would climb that old tree and just sit there eating the fruit. Hands, mouth and clothes stained with the juice.
I think we found blackberries to pick in every town and suburb where we lived. I remember in Beechworth we would go out to what we knew as the Woolshed Creek. (I think it may be called Spring Creek) The best berries were hanging over the very shallow water and we would take off our shoes and paddle in the creek to pick them. There is nothing nicer that a jar of jam made out of fruit picked in the wild.
Even though many blackberries are sprayed with pesticides these days (in Australia they are a noxious weed) we have still managed to find them. Last week we took the boys for a walk in Endeavour Hills and one very ordinary day turned into an exciting one for them. I was helping Luke out of the car when I heard Daniel say to Michael, “Shh, look there is a rabbit.” I turned around to see them glued to the spot whispering animatedly to each while watching the rabbit hopping in and out of the bushes. Eventually it disappeared and we moved on.
It was then we saw the masses of unripe Blackberries and Michael discovered some ripe ones among them. Despite my concern the boys were eagerly determined to start picking and deftly slid their hands in between the long prickly runners. It was a joy to hear their enthusiastic exclamations every time they discovered some more ripe berries. Even three year old Luke was helping though most of the berries went straight into his mouth.
We came home ending the afternoon by cooking enough Blackberry and Apple for both households. We also had enough ripe strawberries to make a jar of Strawberry Jam each. The boys were full of stories about their great adventure and we were quietly chuffed. We had been able to create memories which we hope will long outlive us. What is that old saying? The best things in life are free? I am inclined to agree.
Mum (Pat) with a big bucket of Mulberries ready for Dad to make the Jam