Frost patterns on the glass roof of the conservatory.
We have had the first serious frosts,
which means it's time to go into the woods and gather sloes.
Sloes are the fruits of the Blackthorn, used to make
sloe gin, wine or jelly.
In olden days they were used as a household remedy:
By the end of October, go gather up sloes
Have thou in a readiness plenty of those
And keep them in bedstraw. or still on the bough
To stay both the flux of thyself and thy cow.
Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry 1573
Benno is showing me the path into the woods.
At the very end of the month, there is still a memory
of the glory that was October.
We have arrived.
Blackthorn loves a sunny place at the edge of the woods,
not too tidy, often by a stream between the woods and the fields.
In Spring, a blossoming blackthorn hedge makes itself known
from far away as a frothy white cloud hugging footpaths and lanes.
This is what we came away with:
more than three kilos of sloes,
Well done, Benno and Friko.
Beloved will do the rest.
Sloes for keeping are best taken not quite ripe,
and stored still on the branch;
but sloes for wine or jelly
(wherein some mix them with apples to take away their sharpness)
should be left until after they have weathered
a sharp frost or two.