Saturday, Dog & Me
We venture out around the middle point of day, when the tractor boys have slumped for lunch; I guess at cab-warm sandwiches and an energy drink. I have a pot for blackberries and barely stop, just wander and pluck and the layers add up; globules, purple-black, heavy in the heat; I have an eye too for where rosehips are rounding out, for dark dots of elderberry, blue sloes with their whitish bloom, amiable red on the hawthorn stems. We wade the thick grass to the maize field's far edge where a leafy tunnel whispers, irresistible. We had better not tread too far, maize being the kind of crop that will grow behind your back and not tell the way out. I hold my berry tub close, to remind me: these I picked to take home. Jam, wine, cordial, crumble, pie: the recipe is not decided: something, always, is being made.
Sunday, Girl, Little Granddaughter, Dog & Me
Two gallons, the big tub holds. At the hedgerow, thirty finger digits drip purple. One delirious Dog runs, runs, rolls in stink. Two thirds full, the big tub is heavy. Little Granddaughter has her own half litre pot, being young and metric, she wanders ahead picking blackberries; mostly fatly-black, some tight green, some shining red; singing of sheep, calling back, 'Look, look how I can reach!' Nettle stings are tiny dramas, acts of three or four tears, forgotten in the sight of a dragonfly, a bee, a bouncing spider wrapping lunch. 'Bees make honey,' she tells, 'and crocodiles make jam.'
Granma is wondering how they make do for a spoon, or how else does one know that the sugar is dissolved, when the sun remembers that it isn't autumn yet. Too hot, they head through the shade of balsam to a wide brown river, to sit on stones and weeds, kick off clothes, step knee deep in the water that's clear closer up, spot the wiggle of juvenile fish. Dog swims till the stink is washed off. 'I'm tired,' Little Granddaughter says, lying under Granma's scarf on her mother's lap. She pushes her fingers into mud; idly draws brown stripes on a white cotton sleeve.