Warm sun on my back, I brush aside the leaves to find the hidden treasure. Hanging in shining black clusters, the big juicy sweet/tart berries soon fill my basket.
As the distinctive, tangy scent of blackcurrant leaves fills my nostrils, I have my own Proustian moment. I am transported back to my childhood, picking blackcurrants in my grandparent's orchard. For me it is the quintessential summer memory. In amongst the currant bushes, gobbling down most of what I pick as the sun shines and Nanna, Mum, my siblings and I chat companionably, picking, picking, picking. The currants will be turned into pies, puddings, jams and some will be frozen so we can enjoy the taste of summer even during the darkest of winter days.
This summer, my own neglected blackcurrant bushes are sprawling in all directions, overgrown with brambles, bracken, nettles and bindweed. Yet still they give abundantly, and we shall have jam and wine and currants in the freezer to enjoy for the rest of the year. My hands are scratched by brambles and my legs are stung by nettles, my shoulders turn red from the sun. Yet still I keep picking, just a few more, just a few more... and still there are enough for me, and the birds to enjoy.
Eventually the basket is full and I extricate myself from the thicket, thanking and blessing the bushes for their bounty. I make a mental note to give them a good pruning in the autumn, and tidy up all the brambles and other weeds that have grown up around them.
Wonderful, luxuriant blackcurrants that give so generously despite my neglect. Wonderful memories of childhood summers. Wonderful sunny afternoon of harvesting.