Blackberry Picking

Well, October arrived and so did the rain – it’s been raining steadily since but it is supposed to clear up again.  We did quite a bit of blackberry picking from mid September, not as much as I had planned, but a reasonable amount. The kids got into it this year (didn’t get bored after half an hour) and filled their buckets each time.

Picking Blackberries

I must work on their entrepreneurial skills though – there was no mention of selling me the blackberries 😉

Picking Blackberries

All were consumed pretty quickly – there was no rat-grey fungus growing over them (that image from Heaney’s poem always stayed with me). My mum made jam and I made apple and blackberry tarts so there’s 3 huge ones in the freezer.


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.

Seamus Heaney


10 thoughts on “Blackberry Picking

  1. It was one of my favourite things to do as a kid, used to come home with a big purple mess around my mouth from eating them all!

  2. An autumn tradition. There was the bones of an old cottage in the field behind my parents house (it’s pretty much gone now, crumbled away) and the brambles were covered in blackberries in October. Those bushes would keep us in blackberry jam for months.

  3. I think its very cute your children using their sandcastle buckets for the blackberries. I picked lots this year, i have put them in the freezer to brighten up the dark days of winter.

    • I meant to pick more and just freeze them for the winter but it just didn’t happen. My mother in law was telling me how they used to go picking blackberries for hours and then go to the local town to sell them. There was once an old lady who filled a bucket and left it as she went to fill another one and when she came back, someone had stolen it – can you imagine how awful that would have been – the loss of a huge bucket of blackberries to a poor old lady.

I love to get comments - please let me know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s