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Can you believe it’s officially Autumn? Despite an ever mounting to-do list, I made sure to escape for a walk in the glen to celebrate the first day of my second favourite season. Blue skies and sunshine would have been excuse enough for the excursion but like a cherry on top, I also found a tree laden with Elderberries.
I thought it might be getting too late in the season to find any but fortunately luck was on my side. The berries were the juiciest I’ve ever found and were literally falling off the tree.
It’s been one of the best summers I think I’ve had in the British Isles. The sub-tropical heatwave in July and warm days both before and after have literally been the fount of true Autumn bounty. The apples have been juicy and sweet, the blackberries lush, and now the Elderberries delightfully plump. The wild birds will be having a field day with the forests and hedgerows spilling over with plenty.
A short distance from the Elderberries I found a bush decorated with crimson rose-hips. Unfortunately there wasn’t any room in my basket for them but I have a mind to go back soon since I love rose-hip tea and it’s really very easy to make. Packed with vitamin C, it has an earthy yet fruity flavour that warms you from inside to out. They say that for maximum flavour you should wait until after the first frost to pick your hips. I can never wait that long though.
The blackberries seem to be coming to the end of their season and instead of picking any to take home I indulged in a handful there on the spot and left the rest. I always think of wild animals at this time of the year. Most of them are sleek and healthy after a good summer, but that vitality will need to see them through the lean days ahead. Winter won’t be long in the coming and leaving wild food for birds and beasts is the responsible and kind thing to do.
An Autumn bounty isn’t just made up with berries but also with mushrooms. After my recent Cep Hunting Foray
I’m keen to identify more edible fungi so was keeping an eye out. While walking through the glen I spotted two or three varieties and stopped to take a few photos.
This time of year fungi are exploding in little clumps all over grassy fields, lawns, under dense trees, and in the below case out of a rotting stump. I picked a handful of the younger ones but I’m still not 100% sure what they are even after consulting my mushroom books. I believe that they’re an edible but not especially tasty Blewit variety but I’m probably wrong which is why I discarded them in the end. I can’t wait to go Cep hunting again though…they’re easy to identify and absolutely delicious.
It was a quiet walk on my own, enjoying the sound of bees buzzing, birds singing, and rustling trees. They’re just now beginning to fade in colour but soon they’ll be showering us with an autumn snow of crackling leaves. Like delicate paper cranes fluttering down with broken wings.
I love the feeling in the air in Autumn. It’s thick with change and golden with diminished sunshine. The light changes everything, from the shadows gathering in the forest to the way cobwebs and flowers are highlighted first in soft white and then later in the day, pure gold.
The comforting scent of woodsmoke, the sunset lighting up the lane, and a basket full of Elderberries accompanied me on my walk home. Just forty-five minutes and the tranquility of the first day of Autumn had seeped through my skin and relaxed me completely. Sometimes you’ve just got to put down your phone, walk away from the computer, and ground yourself in the beauty and peace of nature. The to-do list can wait.