Red or Black? I think black will do it for me……

I doubt Stendhal was prepared for the arrival of Simon Cowell on the planet or he may well have had second thoughts on the title of his novel. Black dog is gone, save for the head down, trotting Labrador that I can see from the vantage point of my eyrie, although eyrie may be an exaggerated description of the first floor box room that has the euphemistic title of “my office”. Black, however, has been on my mind since I took my camera for a walk up the lane, for which it thanked me by producing this picture of nearly surreal glossy blackberries which were reflecting the small patch of blue sky that I am now treating as the harbinger of the sunny weather that is due to arrive. Working on the picture made me think of Seamus Heaney’s poem which I have attached.

Blackberry Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun

for a full week, the blackberries would ripen.

At first, just one, a glossy purple clot

among others, red, green, hard as a knot.

You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet

like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it

leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for

picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger

sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots

where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.

Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills

we trekked and picked until the cans were full,

until the tinkling bottom had been covered

with green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned

like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered

with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.

But when the bath was filled we found a fur,

A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.

The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush

the fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.

I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair

that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.

Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

Now I’m going to bake nearly black aubergines with melted onions and thick cream with a crust of Parmesan.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in Autumn, blackberries, Digital photography, Food and Photography, France, French countryside, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, summer, Vendee, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Red or Black? I think black will do it for me……

  1. Beautiful berries! I hope you will post the aubergine recipe.

  2. andybeel says:

    I love the deep blue sky reflected in the berries – thanks

  3. Beautiful, and I hope you’ve eaten any that you picked because after reading the poem you know they won’t keep. Thanks for quoting the whole poem – I love it and haven’t read it for years. Like cookinginsens, I’d like to see the aubergine dish too!

  4. This is my kind of poem. Love the photo too.

  5. ceciliag says:

    It is indeed a gorgeous photo.. and a poem as well, what a treat! c

  6. What a great vibe from the poem and the image! Excellent!

  7. ambrosiana says:

    I can almost touch the blackberries and makes me think that if you printed that photo and place a real blackberry on top of it, it would be hard to tell which is the real one!!!

  8. ....RaeDi says:

    This is perfect; as I read the poem… it brought to mind picking blackberries here for the past few weeks… almost 5 gallons worth. Yes always pop the first one in your mouth and let it melt, savor… makes you want to pick (lust for picking) all the more! My hands and arms will heal in weeks, but the berries will last for months. No rat for me, I froze mine on a baking sheet so I could pour them into freezer bags and take a handful or a few whatever we should need at the time! I wanted to see how many I got this year before deciding what to do with, was such good pickens I am making blackberry vinegar as I write this. Next week some preserves, we finished off the tarts I made yesterday… what I have left maybe sauce for a duck, or salads and will be whatever comes to mind….RaeDi

    You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking
    Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
    We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.

  9. Black! Definitely blackberries!

  10. Beautiful berries, poem and pic. With you not only we learn great recipes but also broaden our culture…Camus, Stendhal…

  11. ChgoJohn says:

    Ah, berry picking. I wish I had the time — and the back — for it. There’s nothing like sampling that first berry at the start of the “harvest.” You have shared so many wonderful photos. This one is no exception and is truly beautiful.

  12. Karen says:

    I agree with Ambrosiana. Thank you for sharing a poem that I had not read…it was perfect.

  13. Stunning photo and beautiful poem that I have not read for years. Thank you!

  14. What a beautiful photo. I adore blackberries.

  15. Wonderful poem and love, love, love the photo. One of the most looked at posts on my blog is Banana-Blackberry Bread. I’ve a freezer full but wish they’d not take over the entire yard. Very difficult to tame!

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