Last night, 15th August, I went out on a whim for some blackberries. Past the campus buildings (some fruit there, harder to spot as the light faded) and onto Warneford Meadow, to the tall banks of nettles and brambles, wet from the rain. A quick bowl full to add to some porridge for tea, and they made a real celebration. Locality and peace, as Auden prays for. I picked some more this morning when I went out to take the photo at the bottom of this post.
Earlier I cited Belden Lane (in turn quoting another writer) saying Tell me the place where you live, and I’ll tell you who you are. An appropriate and even important challenge as people strain to make holidays work, or to get home from them – and one echoed in some ways by the earthy, everyday (or at least seasonal) sacrament of brambling. Homely in the most basic sense. And (of course), the glorious Mary Oliver has been treading down the undergrowth to get there before me:
When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods,
in the brambles nobody owns, I spend
all day among the high
my ripped arms, thinking
of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body
accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among
the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.