Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Morning walk....

            Now I have a whole host of things to do before my reluctant return to ‘the grind’ this Thursday and truly no time to finish everything, but this morning I had a little of the butterfly in me. Let me enlighten you a tad more;-

I rose early, before dawn’s first light had highlighted the gap above the bedroom curtains, after one of the most vivid and stomach turning nightmares that I’ve had for some years, it is still etched in my mind as I sit and type this tale. So I’m up early and a tad upset (yes even I have some feelings you know), I dress quietly so as to allow the house to slumber and take a brew outside to greet the morning. The wind is rising and there is all manner of debris strewn around the back yard which, with an absent mind, I clear away. I feed the chucks and the Warthog and return inside to make a fresh brew and toast smothered with proper butter and honey. Clare emerges bleary eyed with that ‘you're up already look’ upon her face. I skip over the dream and let her know that the chores are done, “tea and toast?” I ask, intending now to start upon the ever escalating ‘jobs for John’ list. “Windy morning, why don’t take Willow out for a while before you start?”, this is Clare’s way of saying “get yourself out from under my feet whilst I get ready for work you dotard”. But never one to require a second invitation for a stroll five minutes later the two wanderers are pacing the streets of Buckley heading for the outskirts and relief from the trappings of man. See butterflying, and to define this word;- ‘in all good faith intending to knuckle down and doing some serious labour but then being easily distracted and doing something all together different (and more enjoyable)’.

I must admit it has been a while since I’ve waffled on about our walking under the canopy of forests or on the skyline of the hills, but the reason is simple. Since the Warthog managed to damage her rear leg so severely it has been a long haul to return her to a level where I’m not worried about further damage occurring and her fitness had returned. So we’ve been pacing the streets of Buckley, slowly increasing distance and confidence and we’ve now reached a point where we are leaving suburbia behind us and are traversing the surrounding countryside which consists of farm fields and the odd, scattered island of old woodland. I had never really given much thought to the area immediately surrounding the town where I live but truth be told if your patient and observant there is as much, if not more, wild flora and fauna to appreciate than on the walks that usually find our paw prints in the mud. Another benefit is that I’m not using the fun cruiser as much so my affect upon the local ecology is reduced a tad and I’m also a little better off in the wallet. This is not to say that we shall not be treading the wilder trials again, bloody hell no, just not as frequently but perhaps then they will have more impact upon my soul.

Once we’d left the shelter of the built up area the freshness of the morning assailed our senses, the wind had picked up even more ensuring that there were no cobwebs left clouding my head. The odd shower was driving sidewise into us, buffeting our steps. I smiled and laughed aloud, for after all this has become my favourite time of the year when Mother Nature’s larder is overflowing with fare for those with a mind to feast upon it. The air has a freshness about it which seems to flow through and infuse your body and mind if you allow it to, the world of the grind and of chores is left behind and forgotten for a few stolen moments. Even the rain lashing against my face just added to the feeling of ….. well sheer bloody happiness to be honest. Even the Warthog seemed to be infected with the atmosphere;-

Speaking of Mother Nature’s larder it seems to be truly over flowing this year and I cannot shake the feeling that this abundance of wild food bodes for a truly severe winter to follow. But hey, in for a penny in for a pound as they say (don’t ask because I still don’t know who ‘they’ are yet), and for me it also means that there is still plenty of foraging to be done over the next few weeks as I slowly learn to live closer to nature. It is a slow journey, one that I truly wish that I stepped foot upon so many years ago but you cannot change the past only try and shape your future as the saying goes (yes I know ‘they’ are at it again!). So I guess you’ll be wanting a few pictures then to prove that I had not imagined the plunder to be had;-

Elder berry.

Crab Apples

Hawthorn Berry

Bramble or to some Blackberry

Blackthorn/Sloe Berry - now what to do with these....

Rose Hip (from Dog Rose)

Acorns of course
Small Puffball Fungus (I think)

Also we came across plenty of rabbit sign, a small field pit (with a couple of mallard, yep no photo), and some squirrel infested woodland so I think a few ‘undercover’ outings will be called for as the nights draw in, for after all a larder should hold a little meat as well.

Our time of escapisium was all to brief and we soon found ourselves heading into the greyness of town with the prospect of the ‘to do’ list looming large once more.


But there was just time for a little more butterflying, so with yet another brew I sat down to relive our walk and share it with you my friends, I hope you enjoyed the stroll.

        Till next time and an update on the brewing madness here, your friend,



John Gray said...

your photos are so good, I wonder (seriously) if you could take some "official" photos of our open day and flower show next year????

Murphyfish said...

Bloody hell John that is an unexpected offer - of course I would be truly honoured (I take it that there will be cake forthcoming then?)

Kath said...

Loved the photo of Willow bounding through the grass. There was a time when my old girl ran like that.
I have noticed how early the blackberries were this year. I had blackberry wine last year, made by my old neighbour. Very nice.

Martijn said...

It's good to cherish every bit of time outside of the confines of suburbia. I try to get out as much as possible to feed my heart and mind.

Murphyfish said...

She is a bugger Kath, thinking of doing Blackberry syrup this year, yes that's right something non alcoholic!

Your right Martijn, the outdoors does lift the soul.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Lovely walk John,enjoyed it indeed. If I had blackberries....I'd make wine. Elderberries make excellent wine as well. It's my favorite!

Le Loup said...

I miss being able to collect elder berries to make wine & crab apples. I planted a crab apple tree here years ago, but it has not fared well!

Dave Reid said...

Lovely photos... The blackberry looks particularly plump. I used to go picking them here in Canberra until they were declared a noxious weed and the gov. started spraying them. A bit sad but they do takeover unchecked here. Cheers

Gorges Smythe said...

Stolen or planned, time afield is always precious.

Casey said...

Damn fine recap, John! Love to see a man finding all there is even on just the "littlest" of walks. Shows great spirit (for my part).

Take care!

Murphyfish said...

Hi Karen,
Thank you me dear, unfortunately I now have several gallons of wine brewing at various stages and me thinks Clare is running out of patience a tad (still got to leave room for the cider farm), hence thoughts turning to non alcoholic uses for the harvest.

Perhaps a couple of grape vines may fair better in your climate my friend? I’m sure a man of your guile would be able to do something with them.

Thank you Dave,
I guess the climate there does encourage some non native species to either fail or take over. Are there no native fruits to be used as a substitute?

Wise words Mr. Smythe, hoping to ‘steal’ some more this evening.

Cheers Casey,
Hopefully I’ll get some feathers and fur to stay still long enough for this clumsy git to show you that it’s not all fruit n fungus around here

Dmarie said...

hmmnn...my first reaction when you mentioned a hard winter was to cringe. but then, here in western Kentucky, hard winters keep the summer bugs away, so I'll take what Mother Nature dishes out. thanks for sharing!

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

I feel like I just took a walk. Thanks for that. It was refreshing. Also makes me wonder what I might see myself if I got up and got out. I might take that as a bit of a personal challenge to myself. I, too, love the Willowdog's picture, and I am SOOOO very jealous of the elderberries. Ours are done, and I missed them this year. Slim window for them, between me and the birds. I make elderberry syrup with mine, for pancakes, and also to drink. Can it, then use a couple of tablespoons in a mug with a little bit of lemon juice added to cut the sweetness, then add hot water, and it makes a wonderful hot drink on cold days. It's also supposed to be SUPER good to keep away colds. I will, thus, probably be sniffling a lot this year.

Shoreman said...

While we were at the wineries on Saturday, we came across a very nice apple wine and you popped into my head immediately. I thought I should get a bottle and send it to John because of his "not so good" recent trials with apples and mashing. But low and behold, we decided to keep it and drink it ouselves. Sorry, John. The thought was there, though.


Deus Ex Machina said...

I, too, gave noticed the abundance that Nature has provided here in Maine. Of course, my version of the "Grind" has stifled my foraging a bit.

Murphyfish said...

Tis true that a good winter keeps the bugs down, personally I prefer the seasons to be well defined instead of blending into each other – each one is special to me in its own ways.

If my humble words have inspired you to get up more and enjoy the nature around you then my blathering writings have at least been worthwhile. Elderberry syrup sounds divine and I think it’ll go down well with scolding hot porridge in the winter mornings to come. Send me the recipe me dear – please ;O)

Hey Mark,
Thanks for the thought…. I think :o)

It’s truly a bugger when the ‘grind’ gets in the way of life Deus, maybe we should have an official foraging week off ?

Frugal Queen said...

oh i need to get out for a walk, my fluffy poodles are shite walkies companions, but brilliant stuck in the office or pottering in the kitchen buddies. I must get out on those moors or round siblyback lake! i'm going to steep the sloes in gin and sugar tomorrow in readiness for christmas sipping by the fire! love the walks murph! keep it up xxxx froogs xxx

Murphyfish said...

Hey Froogs,
You could always push your 'shite' (I'm only quoting me dear) walking buddies in a nicked shopping trolley, Trust me I've seen a couple of mad women around here do that... er not saying that your mad or anything ;o)

Rachelradiostar said...

I'm not sure we can eat acorns?

Rachelradiostar said...

PS I LOVE you put Harry's page on your blog - I think you need to teach me how to do the same and a big thank you to anyone who goes to see it from here xxxx
Eternally grateful
PPS ha ha ha the word I have to type to prove that I am real is snotted - it's making me chuckle!!!!

Murphyfish said...

Eh up Rach,
You can eat anything (doesn't mean it's good for you though), apparently you can make a coffee substitute from acorns.
It's a pleasure to try and help me dear, by the way I've just e-mailed you with my 'idiots guide' how I got Harry's page link on me blog.
Snotted? only you Rach, only you ;o)

Sarah said...

Great post, I felt like I was there. Thanks for sharing the photos, they are lovely

Murphyfish said...

Thank you for the kind words Sarah