eat ’em fresh

On a beautiful walk in the Ireland sun we picked blackberries yesterday.

on the vine
blackberries on the vine
the harvest
our plate of blackberries

On line, I came across this poem by Seamus Heaney:

“Blackberry Picking” can be found in Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996. Heaney, born in 1939, won the Nobel Prize in 1995. According to his Nobel biography, he grew up as a country boy on a farm in County Derry, northern Ireland.

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.


So, the moral of the poem is:  you gotta eat ’em fresh . . . so we will.


Published by philandpatricia

we live in Northport, MI

10 thoughts on “eat ’em fresh

  1. What a great poem, here in Maine I am surrounded by” blueberries” everywhere, so right, fresh is everything! I laughed as I then had the images of you Phily holding patricia by her feet so you could ” pick” your lobster ” fresh”! ( I know sick but funny thinking!) Gladd u had an awesome” lobster feed”! I wonder if they probably taste like a Maine lobster, just might sound different when entering the “boiling pot” with their ” brough” , us I know, I am Illish!( is this a word? Hugs, nn

    1. Jeremiah did the picking . . . and thankfully we met a chef who guided us into “the more humane way” of ending the life of the lobster before it goes into the pot. It was good . . . best I have eaten.

  2. Yum! What memories you stirred about blackberries in Eagle River! And of course they’re at their very best when eaten or made into pie, jam, etc., within that 12 hour window. The poem reminded me of the time my cousin and I put the fruit in jars and buried it in the ground for later eating. Hmmmm, you know what we dug up in Oct. Loving all your tales, many jogging our memories of when we were in Ireland. It’s the best! XOXO Marlyn

  3. The blueberry picking made me remember picking them in Oregon when the grands were little. We seldom got home with any because we had taken your poet’s advice and eaten them along the way
    I’m just loving all your postings – almost feel as if I’m there! Thanks a heap. Fay

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