I love my brisk walks all year round, but in the autumn - ah, in the autumn it's a whole different bag of bananas, as the saying goes. (I would certainly come home with a bag of bananas if they grew around here). Yes, the trouble with an autumn walk is nature's bounty. I can't resist it. So what should be an hours brisk trot for the old cardio-vascular stuff, turns into a leisurely and delightful trawl of the hedgerows. Some days I stagger home triumphantly bearing bags of glistening blackberries, sun-warmed and rich-fruity smelling. On these days I am smeared with juice around my face, in my hair and up my arms, as I scoff and pick and, of course, scratched up to my elbows by evil brambles. One pays for ones pleasures. Other days it is rose-hips for wine or syrup and hawthorn berries for light wine. Crab apples and quinces for jelly, overhanging plums for jam ... no time for walking just now.
Best of all are the elderberries, dark red, almost to black when ripe. They don't have the warm fruity smell of the blackberry, but pounded up for wine or stewed on their own or with apples and they are the nectar of the gods. But beware, gloves need to be worn, or hands are stained red with the flowing juice, like Lady Macbeth on a good day.
So, it's back out the door with me - nature's harvest won't keep. There'll be all winter for brisk trots in the countryside. But for now - Carpe Diem.