I love walking and I love scrumping. The two go together like freshly baked bread and honey or toast with melting butter and marmite.
When I walk I am rather like a dog marking posts. No, I don’t lift a leg but I do mark with memory. Memory is an extraordinary thing. I am constantly amazed by what I remember and what I forget. What I do remember are my scrumping posts. So, on my walks I mark where an overladen apple tree grows, where I might find wild cherry plums, gold and crimson, where I can pick elder blossom for refreshing cordial on a hot summer’s day. And, sometimes, if I am lucky, I might find a fig tree on an empty site.
This season, whether because of the strangeness of the summer or because I have time to explore new walks, scrumping, the finding and harvesting of wild food, has been very rewarding.
The other day, rather like Daniel Quercia, I inexplicably decided to go down a previously ignored road. I usually head for the path that leads along the stream and over the hill. This is the path that originally introduced me to scrumping years ago. It was along this path that I noticed an apple tree and its small, red, crisp fruit, possibly a Cox Pippin, and a pear tree. The abundance and sweetness of their fruit may have been accounted for by their proximity to water. They have long since disappeared when the river bank was cleaned up and the willows were removed in order to make the path more accessible and increase the water flow.
What was appealing about the road was that it is unmade so it is as if you are walking down a country lane. And it was like a country lane with fruit trees growing in empty spaces or heavily laid branches drooping over fences. There were blushing nectarines, not quite ripe, plums and, joy of joys, a fig tree. I even discovered an almond tree.
So thanks to taking a different path, my fruit bowl is full of sweet nectarines and cherry plums, lush in their ripened skins. I won’t forsake my old path from which, some weeks ago, I noticed a tree laden with plums, their swollen flesh a golden contrast to their reddened skin. I and the birds feasted on its offerings for a couple of weeks. But I’ll continue to learn about my country lane and probably follow new paths that I had not previously noticed.