Last year was our first summer here and I was astonished at the sudden appearance of wild raspberry canes, popping out from brown, dead, snow-crushed nowhere in springtime. We watched as they flowered briefly and then started noticing the red berries as we drove past, resolving to return on foot with a basket or two. I made many sojourns out with Otis on my back and Sol on his balance bike, freezing the handful here and there that we picked. I made jelly with the resulting kilo and a bit, which converted into three precious jars. Last week, my visiting mum and I went out and in one session, picked the same weight as I managed for the whole of last year!
I boiled up the berries immediately this time, strained them overnight in a muslin bag (‘like a bloodied pendulum,’ according to my mother) and made the jelly the next morning. I used jam sugar, but not the one with added pectin, as that resulted in a very firm set previously. I haven’t cracked open a jar, but my mum took one back to my grandmother to enjoy on some of her scones, and am reliably informed of a good set and tasty jelly!
The thing about seasons, and seasonal living, is that you quickly become a creature of habit. Winter brings soups, gathering in logs as quickly as possible for the fire, and the smell of an unhappy clutch as I struggle to emerge from a snowy parking spot; then comes the time for a handful of wild garlic in an omelette; daffodils pop up; the trees start their soft, pure green growth that makes them look fresh and new; elders start blooming and I resolve to make elderflower champagne (scared of the explosions, next year, I promise); and the raspberries, in the same wind and snow-ravaged spot, grow completely unaided by human hand. As Sol and I picked by the roadside, a woman in her seventies pulled up her car and told us of how she had picked these same raspberry bushes with her children. It was a lovely moment: cyclical, seasonal, round and round.