I must need a break – I’ve made a cup of tea without a tea bag in it. It’s time to walk the garden and see what’s ready to be picked. I grab a punnet and head out the back door, the cat skipping ahead of me and grumbling to himself as always. In the first, more obviously cultivated half of the garden I claim a few raspberries and two pods of peas. That’s the sum total of our ripe and ready crop for this week, but both the berries and the peas are deliciously sweet and worth so much more to us than their insipid packaged cousins.
There’s another, more bounteous harvest that we hardly had to work for at all. A few snips here and there to stop them taking over the garden completely is all it took to spur new growth in the bramble hedge, first triggering bright green creepers, then buds, flowers and finally seed-filled fruits. The quantity of ripe blackberries takes me by surprise, showing how little attention I’ve been paying lately. The day itself is ripe too, matured into that soft, peach-hued light beloved of photographers, as rich as spiced honey wine. Some of the berries are soft to the point of disintegrating in my hand, their crushed fruitlets leaving intense inky stains. Some only come loose with a gentle twist and tug which sets the stem bouncing, piercing my fingers with tiny thorns.
Meanwhile a carder bee weaves a trail through the tangle in front of me in search of one of a few remaining flowers. I can hear a wasp working its way into a weak spot on a windfall pear. Greenfinches mournfully trill overhead and house sparrows are chirping contentedly to each other in their evening roost by the canal. All around the garden it feels as though fruition is the active word; grass refreshed by recent rain, birds well-fed and relaxed, most weedy plants running to seed. There’s an air of contentment. I breathe slowly, consciously, grateful for the light and to be outdoors on a fine evening, picking fruit.