Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Autumn: season of searing heat and fruit mania.

The autumn croci, leafless pale purple spears, arrived early - again. This year a full month ahead of the official date of 22nd September.  Some fruit has ripened early also but most, despite storms, is still hanging on the trees in a threatening manner. 'Do something' the leaves whisper as one passes, so awakening what I think must be an atavistic urge, the need to create stores for unkind winter. Or is it just plain greed in the short lived face of mellow fruitfulness?.

Here a short, apologetic detour.   Mi bad, very bad because I have so often mocked the manic fungi gatherers of early summer and autumn with their plastic bags, sticks, short Opinel penknives and desperate grubbing under the decaying leaves.  I do not like many fungi which may be why I have failed to understand their passion. But plums, or apples even blackberries or rosehips 

Plum madness - we cannot crumble them all - and I only made 4 pots jam!

when they are numerous, there is this compelling urge to jam, puree and freeze, soak in alcohol, all possible means of conservation, including on a smaller scale, immediate consumption. Mine, mine, all mine now - and for later.

There have been a couple of times when this compulsive picking madness was made clear to me.  Once, many, many years ago when I was younger and much more agile, I found myself perilously balanced on a rotten gate post attempting to pick about 6 blackberries.   More recently, I found myself half way up a damp, mossy bank, one foot in stream,other foot slipping downwards - all in an attempt to pick ONE, I repeat ONE chanterelle.....

Now, when I remind myself, I never go down the fields with a stick (as well as the ubiquitous basket).  A stick can wedge an aging foot as firmly as a stiletto trapped in the cracks of a London pavement.  Remember,remember, goes the walking chant, those that the sheep don't eat will feed wasps, beetle or just become fertiliser.   Not stupid, the sheep,they rub their backs agains the tree trunks to shake down the ripe fruit.

fortunately, sheep love apples, too.
As we sorted our stores, prior to beginning a more nomadic life, I found myself pouring 8 litres of home made fruit liqueurs onto the compost heap.   No jams fortunately.   And I still have, somewhere, a litre jar of peaches in eau de vie dating back to about 1990 or so....

Let us forget the ancient wisdom of west country peasants, - the more fruit or berries there be, the harder will the winter.