Oily looking ferrous reds stain the greyer mud of the marsh edges at different locations within the immediate Parish bounds. University of Southampton research concludes these are ‘ochre springs’ of ferrous hydroxide colloids emerging from alluvial sediment and the clays, marls and gravel of the later Eocene period 33 million years ago. This brush with the geological strata will continue to colour my thoughts.
Two metres of a green painted lateral channel marker has been washed up at N 50˚47.143″ x W 001˚24.449″ (20 feet from the Egg). These posts are made from boughs of willow driven into the mud to mark the starboard edge of the winding navigable water. I found a further shorter section upriver, as well as a fragment of green painted bark around 100 metres from the main section of post. Erosion, accidental knocks and wood rot play their part in the ever changing changing shape of the local scene.
Seamus Heaney’s poem called Blackberry Picking was sent to me just a couple of days ago in response to my ongoing fascination with this bountiful plant, but without mention of his death at the end of August (news of which just penetrated my thin cedar walls). I walked out tonight as the sun set along my abundant avenue of fruit laden bushes, whose every stem seemed home to the green, to the ripe and to the gone to seed. Nothing’s lasts forever, except perhaps its memory.
Morning ripened berries were selected from an east facing bush on the Egg Gateway. They were thoroughly washed and examined by hand for bits of thorn and other unwelcomeness. They were then lightly crushed in a bowl.
A sachet of pectin with a quarter cup of sugar was added to the berries and brought to the boil for a minute. Seven full cups of sugar were then added and boiled again for a short time, until the nascent jam began to set on a cooled spoon. Froth was skimmed from the top and the mixture carefully poured into two pre-prepared sterilised jars.
nb. It is important not to pick blackberries after Michaelmas on September 29th after which time they increasingly become a home to maggoty creatures. It has been argued that the devil renews a curse on the plant on this day every year, after landing on it when ejected from heaven by archangel Michael.
Eight cups of berries (crushed to fill six cups)
Seven and 1/4 cups of sugar
One sachet of pectin
Two clean glass jars
Two labels (to be applied)
The hot sun of late July and the first part of August bleached the egg exterior considerably, as I noted when the first of the protective foil panels was removed this week to reveal the original orange tinted condition of the wood beneath. Further panes exposed in coming months will create a calendar charting seasonal change.
Intense sunlight through the smaller shower window has had an opposite effect on the marine ply walls inside the Egg, where the timber darkened to pick out the paler ghostly afterimage of a large plastic shower bag recently removed.
The reused shower door has older and more distinguished patination from its former life as part of a garage, that contributes gravity to the Egg’s newer narratives.