I was away from Exeter for a couple of weeks, and when I returned (though I returned) I remained absent. It was several days before I remembered it was ‘high summer’ and there was free fruit to be had in Ludwell Valley Park and along the suburban margins.
Or there should have been, but the cherry trees were bare, and the brambles tight-fisted. There were few red berries, and even fewer black, and those few were acid and anhydrous on the tongue. I picked a pound or so nevertheless, and will try jam. In amongst the brambles and nettles I came across a surprise raspberry cane, just reachable keeping the stomach drawn tight over the barbed wire.
There’s a solitary quince tree on the business park side of Ludwell, which I must visit soon. Quinces are coming in the municipal planting between the playground and Woodwater Lane, though short-commons and still hard green. The trees above may also produce an unusual fruit come autumn, but for the time being, the boomerang remains hidden, caught in their upper branches.
Ludwell does seem to have a reasonable crop of hazelnuts, not yet ripe but some already hard to crack between the teeth and producing tiny milky nuts nestled in white rind. There’s a fine line to be drawn between allowing them to come to ripeness, and allowing the grey squirrels to snaffle them all.
Maybe that’s where the cherries have all gone – to the canny neighbours who keep watch over ‘their’ trees. And the quinces could go the same way. And I’m glad of it. There aren’t enough people engaging with the seasons, and natural gluts and famines, instead of the false bounty of supermarket shelves.