forest fresh

These days I am picking my breakfast.

It seems like this happened overnight, and maybe in nature these things really do. It was just last week that I was with Joao picking what we hoped were ripe wild blackberries, wincing at their tartness. Now I stroll down and find sweet satisfaction at every bush, sometimes between morning and evening the quantities will have seemingly doubled. If I stop and get carried away on a particularly bountiful branch I'll often look down the path and see that the dog is doing the very same thing, like me she zeroes in right for the plumpest darkest berries leaving the still red ones to ripen.

Back in Finland I spent many a pleasant afternoon foraging raspberries, freezing them for the winter, making jams, cakes, and tarts. These days it's a more selfish affair, but as far as I can tell we are not yet at peak harvest time in Portugal. Maybe by then someone will feel more generous, I will likely be gone already.

With the raspberries it was always the nettles acting as nature's deterrent for foraging, growing right along with them, almost indecipherably so. Here it's the blackberries' own silva, the forever expanding and menacing thorns on endlessly extending branches from cartoon nightmares snagging your clothes or worse yet your skin.

Yesterday afternoon I took on the cathartic task of clearing by hand a set of hidden stairs leading from the main house to the solar panels on top of the tool shed. Armed with proper gloves and hedge clippers, I took immense satisfaction in for once having the upper hand with these bastards of the plant world. What do you know, as I cleared it slowly, branch by branch, I discovered one of the sweetest, ripest bunches yet of wild blackberries hiding underneath. Just rewards, if you ask me. And of course I shared them with Ishtar.