Monday, August 27, 2007

The Biggest Bramble You Ever Did See


powered by ODEO

I picked and I plucked, was scratched and stung, but slowly and steadily filled my tub with the wildest, ripest, tastiest brambles that Scotland has to offer.

And there, I swear, no word of a lie, was the biggest bramble you ever did see – large enough to feed 3 full grown men – just slightly out of reach.

I swapped the tub to my left hand to angle myself better. Standing on tiptoes I was nearly there, almost, just about… yes! I had it! I tossed it into the tub where it bounced off the corner and into the briars, gone forever.

But I carried on.

I picked and I plucked, was scratched and stung, but slowly and steadily filled my tub with the wildest, ripest, tastiest brambles that Scotland has to offer.

And there, I swear, no word of a lie, was the biggest, blackest, bramble you ever did see – large enough to feed 3 full grown men and their wives – nestled between 2 of the tallest, pointiest, stingiest stinging nettles in the whole of Galloway.

I swapped the tub to my right hand to angle myself better. Delicately sliding my fingers through the narrow gap, I gently squeezed the bramble. It exploded between finger and thumb, spraying me and everything in a hundred feet with a fleshy, purple mulch.

But I carried on.

I picked and I plucked, was scratched and stung, but slowly and steadily filled my tub with the wildest, ripest, tastiest brambles that Scotland has to offer.

And there, I swear, no word of a lie, was the biggest, blackest, shiniest, bramble you ever did see – large enough to feed 3 full grown men, their wives and children – hidden behind a web containing the creepiest, crawliest, longest leggedy spider this side of Solway Firth.

I swapped the tub to my left hand to angle myself better. Deftly curling my arm under the web, I carefully removed the berry from the briar and was startled by the slimiest, squirmiest, wriggliest maggot staring out at me. I jerked back my hand in disgust, springing the spider high into the air, which sailed away on a gust of wind, never to be seen again.

But I carried on.

I picked and I plucked, was scratched and stung, but slowly and steadily filled my tub with the wildest, ripest, tastiest brambles that Scotland has to offer.

And there, I swear, no word of a lie, was the biggest, blackest, shiniest, juiciest bramble you ever did see – large enough to feed 3 full grown men, their wives children and dogs – tucked between the spikes of the sharpest, prickliest, jaggiest gorse bush in the South West of Scotland.

I swapped the tub to my right hand to angle myself better. I stood on my tiptoes, slid my fingers between nettles, curled my arm beneath a web and plucked this queen of fruits from its nest. It did not fall, it did not squelch and it contained no maggot.

But strangely enough, when I placed it gently in my tub it wasn’t much bigger than any of the others.



More Bramble Stories:
The Great Bramble Hunt
Bramble Crumble
Bramble Crumble Recipe

31 comments:

gimme a minute said...

It never is, is it?

Sweet story, sweet reading.

Nikki said...

That is a blackberry...and they grow wild around my house.

I made my first blackberry pie a few weeks ago....and my mother in law makes a killer blackberry preserve.

I'd send you some if I could

Mary Witzl said...

We did this yesterday too, Kim, and you wouldn't believe the ones that got away! We've got wild raspberries growing nearby, and also real blackberries (much larger than brambles, Nikki!), and I know of several places where the blueberries grow wild and are better than anything you can buy in the store, really small and tasty. And don't get me started on crabapples...

Carole said...

I love this story and would buy it immediately as a book for wee ones. It is wonderfully written.

Kuin said...

OMG Kim ..that was the best story ever...I too , think that would make a great story for a kid. ( or kid at heart!!...thanks

PI said...

That was so lovely and I'll bet Maggie is going to make the biggest, juiciest, blackest blackberry pie ever. My juices are flowing and the nearest thing I caa do to sate them is put some cassis in my evening snifter. I have just been cutting brambles indecently thick but the berries were mierably un-ripe.
Bottoms up!

Kanani said...

Bravo!
The reading is wonderful.
Really, top notch, your prose has music, poetry, humor and irony.
Wonderful stuff...
LOVE IT!

Brave Astronaut said...

Bramble Rambles! Now you need to get you wife to do some illustrations and publish this as a children's book! I'd buy one. I am sure that my son would love the story.

Your audio is perfect for this story. I loved listening to it!

Brave Astronaut said...

BTW, I am "borrowing" Maggie's crumble recipe for Recipe Monday over on Order from Chaos. I hope that's OK.

Eryl Shields said...

That was so good - bravo!

How do you do that by the way?

I love this season of dark, juicy fruits. I have two damson (I think) trees in my garden and picked a kilo and a half of them today and didn't even make a dent in them. If anyone wants any come pluck.

I'm off to the hedgerows tomorrow.

No longer anonymous said...

You never cease to amuse.I loved it thank you !! After I figured out what a bramble was

Kim Ayres said...

Gimme - As soon as it's in the tub it's forgotten about and all you can think of is the next one :)

Nikki - In England the fruit is called a blackberry and the thorny plant is a bramble. But in Scotland, the fruit is called a bramble and the plant is a briar. As I live in Scotland and my wife is Scottish, and she's the one who makes the greatest bramble crumble in the world, I've developed the habit of calling a blackberry a bramble. Your mother's preserve sounds great :)

Mary - it taps into something quite primeval to go out and pick your own wild food, doesn't it? Especially in these days of fast food and supermarkets.

Carole - thank you :)

Kuin - thank you too :)

Pat - Maggie made one of her legendary bramble crumbles. Aargggle, drool, slurp...

Kanani - praise indeed :)

Brave Astronaut - Feel free to borrow and redistribute Maggie's recipe - I hope it's vagueties mean something to you :)

Eryl - You need to record your voice onto the computer (you can use a freebie programme like "Audacity" to help with the editing). Then you save it in MP3 format. Then you need to find somewhere online that will host it - I find Odeo quite good as when you copy the code it gives you the wee player on your page. If you want more detailed instructions, do send me an email.

No Longer Anonymous - It's why I put in the links to other bramble entries - just in case anyone wasn't sure what I was talking about.

Sayre said...

I remember bramble jelly from visiting my grandmother in Wales. She gave me a pin from the company that made the jelly - which would be quite scandalous and not at all pc these days. I still have him.

Loved the story - I second everyone who suggested that it should be a children's book.

angie said...

what a great story! i third the recommendation to publish it!

*may i download the mp3 for the kids? (uahwang@hotmail.com)

Kim Ayres said...

Sayre - ah yes, I know exactly the kind you mean - Robertson's Jam who had one of the most unPC mascots ever. They were all the rage back in the days when "The Black and White Minstrel Show" was popular.

Angie - You can download it directly from this link: http://odeo.com/show/16468223/4/download/
TheBiggestBrambleYouEverDidSee.mp3

Kate said...

Great story! I feel a little envious though, with all the rain we have had my blackberry bush has only produced a few soggy efforts :-(

Conan Drumm said...

Not ripe here yet, but I'm watching closely.

Canadian Girl said...

Thanks so much for another wonderful entry in your fabulous blog. I look forward to your next installment!

Kim Ayres said...

Kate - it's only the start of the season - I'm hoping for a successful hunt this weekend and next if the weather stays dry

Conan Drumm - it's one of the big drawbacks about living in Scotland - Autumn comes 3 or 4 weeks earlier

Canadian Girl - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for your warm words :)

ADW said...

That is cute. I didn't know you called them brambles.

Archie said...

Great story. See, you don't even need to publish your whole blog, just start with this one post...
Happy hunting!

Kanani said...

I saw this audio contest in the Missouri Review and thought you should enter this piece!

The Missouri Review is a very reputable literary journal here in the US.

The only issue is they want a $24 US entry fee... obstensibly to pay for the grand prize money.

Anyway, if you don't enter, you should still keep tabs to see who does!

Kim Ayres said...

ADW - I grew up calling them blackberries, until I moved to Scotland where it was made quite clear I was wrong...

Archie - thank you :)

Kanani - thanks for the link, I'll check it out :)

redhead83402 said...

Kim, this is absolutely DELIGHTFUL!!! As is the audio!!! Seriously look into http://www.lulu.com this would be just LOVELY as a book with a read-along cd! LOVE LOVE LOVE the audio!!! I too would purchase this for my wee ones! (and they are 9, 11, & 13, 14, & 16!! and they would STILL Love it!)
~Red

Kim Ayres said...

Hello Red! Long time no comments! Are you back blogging again?

With this clamour for making a book, I'm going to have to find an illustrator

justin barker said...

Really, excellent.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Justin :)

Gitta said...

This story completely made my day! I L O V E it! I totally agree with gime a minute, it is sweet, sweet reading.
Simply, pure and totally hilarious!
Gitta

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you Gitta :)

hellaD said...

What a tale, and so true to life, I felt I was right there with you contorting into all kinds of positions to reach that biggest juiciest blackberry ever.
Nice, thanks a million.

Kim Ayres said...

Thank you hellaD, I'm glad you enjoyed it :)