Blackberry picking is as much a part of Irish childhood as the 99 ice cream cone, watching Saturday morning cartoons and rice krispie buns. I think smeara dubha was one of the first Irish words we learnt at school and there was usually a story in the first term or an essay to be written on ‘Ag Piocadh Smeara Dubha’.
These photos were taken on a road near our home where my own girls go to collect the berries with the same excitement and pleasure that I experienced at their age. They trawl the roads and hedgerows and return with sticky purple-tinted hands, brambly clothes and plastic buckets filled to the brim. G likes to make berry smoothies with vanilla ice cream ( sieved to get the bits out ) and my favourite ( when the mood takes me ) is apple and berry sweet pastry tart served with piping hot custard. Yum.
Here’s some more pictures – this one below is a more typical bunch with it’s assortment of blacks, reds and greens and some empty stalks where the ripe ones have been nabbed.
This next cluster is almost ready to bloom, each berry a strange parcel of swelling crimson lobes..
I like this next photo because it includes the berries that have just started to turn. Close up, the creeping mould looks more like sprinkled sugar than decay. Theres something lovely about it as an image of the cycle of nature, from earth to fruit and back to earth again in just a few weeks. A reminder to enjoy them while we can.