Autumn Pleasures – “And I myself an elder tree”

This fall has been remarkably kind – clear skies and mild weather right into October, certainly not something you should expect this far up in the norther hemisphere. Probably won’t last much longer, but somehow that makes it sweeter.

The sun also made the wild berries sweeter, though: don’t be mislead by that. Not sweet like you might be led to expect from stuff like Wild Berry chewing gum, just sweet enough that you don’t spit a rowan berry out with a scrunched up face.

Shrubs and trees full of berries are pretty irresistible to me at the best of times; now, when taking walks without a bag I run the risk of ruining a shirt by using it as a make-shift apron. Elder berries have a special magic, woven into stories as they are. There is that beautiful story about the Rollright Stones which are of course warriors enchanted by a woman who became part of her own enchantment – Rise up stick and rise up stone   /   For king of England thou shalt be none    /     Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be    /    And I myself and elder tree. 

And of course elder trees are the living, breathing short hand for the Snow White tale. Why? Well, because of this:

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So of course I had to collect a few pounds of elder berries, buy antigel and wine yeast, cook, mix, disinfect, strain, bottle … and, just for the sake of branching out to yet another story, serve the whole stuff with arsenic, strychnine and just a pinch of cyanide. Because there’s nothing like a friendly person handing you a glass of wine to ease loneliness!

 

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