Blackberry Picking ~ One of life’s simple pleasures

A couple of weeks ago we took to the fields for our annual blackberry picking.
This is a good year with oodles of large juicy fruit just there for the taking. We are usually able to pick enough to put in the freezer, giving us blackberries that last right up until the next harvest comes around the following Autumn.

We never saw another soul out in those fields, although a young roe deer skipped out of the hedge nearby and stopped to watch us for a while, before bounding off.

The older boys no longer want to come blackberry picking with us and I wonder how much longer Emily will want to, but all the same it is my hope that they remember these afternoons when they are much older and that they look back on them fondly.

In my experience there are few things more satisfying than going for a long walk with your family or indeed alone. Hours of enjoyment and not a penny spent – all that and coming home with a bounty of riches.

There is something essentially real and meaningful about creating memories like this. A time and a place repeated as they grow up. A time of connection to each other and to the Earth, a filling of the senses all combine to create something memorable. It will be something I will remember anyway.

The familiar smell of country farmyard air.
The taste of blackberry juice on pink-stained fingers.
The prick of thorny branches on your skin or catching threads on your clothes.
 The competition of who can collect the most fruit (always won by Jay, of course).
The feel of sticky spiderwebs and a scream if a spider lands on someone’s hand.
The sting of hidden nettles.
The sight of autumn leaves turning brown, red and yellow, visible for miles around.
 And the sun glinting bright on jewelled berries and hedgerows heavy with rosehips.

And all of this goes on to connect to other memories too – apples from our neighbour’s trees, cleaning and preparing the fruit, cooking together, making jams and juices, baking.

Yes, there are other memories of other days – we have arguments and doors slam, we get tired of each other sometimes, but it is my hope that at least a little of the peace and nature and togetherness of outdoor days will remain with them. These days are seeds planted that may one day bear fruit of their own – maybe in the lives of future generations, as a tradition continued.

As a parent, I so rarely feel certain that I’m getting it right, but when we do something like go blackberry picking – small and simple thing that it is –

it is one of the few times that I’m sure I’m doing something right.

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