Thursday, 13 September 2012

Local landscape

I have been blackberrying this week.  It is one of my most favourite things to do and something we always did in late summer when we were children.  It was just part of our year.  A bit like Christmas, just unavoidable, looked forward to and always on my radar at the end of summer.  I can see my mother now - hooking the brambles down with a walking stick so that she could reach the shiny black berries.  The best ones are always out of reach!  Of course blackberry and apple crumble would follow.  Yum.

The hedgerows around here are lovely.  
They have all the right ingredients.  There's lots of hawthorn, which was the original plant used to create barriers around settlements in Saxon times.  The young hawthorn cuttings were interwoven with hazel and the barrier they created was called 'haga' - hedge - which was derived from the Saxon word for the hawthorn berry, haw.  
You can also see holly, yew, ash, hazel, sallow, a random bit of beech and oak, wild rose, blackberry, sweet briar rose and honeysuckle.  All glorious stuff.
The fields the hedges surround are nearly all harvested now and they are littered with the huge round bales of straw.  
When I was young the hay and straw bales were much smaller rectangular affairs.  We would make camps with them in the Dutch barn on my uncle's farm.  Cosy little spaces reached through tunnels running through the stack.  The present day farm child won't have that pleasure - they would never be able to shift those whopping great cotton reel shaped bales.  They might, though, enjoy the swirl of the straw and see it as thing of beauty.
I've seen many pieces of sculpture which are far less pleasing than these.  Also the casings are rather nice, quite geometric, and a fine filigree which must be incredibly strong to be able to encase all that bundled up straw so effectively.
Some of the local farmers seem to have got to grips with the wisdom of leaving a good strip of land around the edge of their fields, to encourage wildlife and plants to flourish.  
They not only serve a wonderful purpose but they look beautiful too.


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