Saturday, 14 September 2013
Into the forest
On sultry summer days we go to the woods, small son and I , to walk along windy tracks dappled by sunlight,and to sit in the cool shade of tall trees.
There is something special about the quiet ; a heavy stillness, broken only by the gentle rustle of a stray leaf dropping through the canopy, or the sudden trill of birdsong. We seek out the fallen giants , where ants and beetles wind their way through slow crumbling bark and fungus blooms; to balance and scramble across broken branches and exposed roots.
As children the forest was our playground. Dog in tow, we would stomp through springing heather, down rutted tracks and into to shady glades, to net sticklebacks in cool slow running streams; or rustle amongst the fallen leaves for the green prickly cases plumped with nut brown conkers.
There was always an empty bag or two for sweet chestnuts, which we would peel and eat as we walked, our mouths puckering around the slightly cotton feel of raw kernel unsweetened by roasting. Blackberry gathering demanded a tub, and a walk away from the beaten paths to the places where they grew in abundance. Purple stained hands and mouths signalling a good harvest, to be sugared and stirred and transformed into sweet bramble jelly.
The blackberries are ripening now; and as I pass the swathes of bushes at the end of the road, I can't help but think to myself that perhaps it's time I learnt to make my own jam .