tempus fugit

By ceridwen

Berried treasure

Picking whinberries has been a summer highlight since my childhood when local people took to the hills to collect the tiny berries (also know as bil/whortle/blaeberries according to which part of the country you come from.) They resemble mini-blueberries, most of the fruit being not much larger than a peppercorn. They grow on acidic moorland, and sometimes in woods, where the air is clear and the ground is moist. Picking is a slow and peaceful occupation accompanied by the sound of buzzards and the buzz of bees but little else. You can easily lose all sense of time until you rise with damp knees and purple hands (tongue too if you can't resist popping them in your mouth as you go along.)

My son here is a meticulous picker and prefers to use his fingers rather than this splendid berry rake sourced for me by Guinea Pig Zero a few years ago. Today the woodland berries were very sparse and we resorted instead to our favourite picking pitch up among the rocky terraces, shaley mounds and shadowy pits of an abandoned slate quarry. We came home with 4 pounds of whins that will go to make pies and puddings, jam and juice - even if frozen these little spheres of summer sweetness are a treasure that has no price save time.

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