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Leafless 2

What was that I said about not going mad over leafless? Here is a different take on the same topic. Plantations like this are not a common sight in Australia. Also note the blackberries in the foreground, another exotic plant and a scourge on the landscape.

Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.


  1. I have a very strange feeling that I might be about to go mad over leaflessness. It is a wondrous thing for those of us who have been doomed to live among eternal green, or brown as the case may be.

  2. I like it when we can tell the season has changed. I would hate to live in the tropics or their polar opposites!

    I wonder why this stand of trees was planted. Surely not for harvest: not enough of them.

    I like the aberdeen angus in the mid-ground. And Heaney ... what is it with Irish poets and the sensuousness of life.

  3. Leafless and yellow! Easy to realize we are almost antipodes! :-)

  4. Hm, me, the Middle European living all my life with many long grey dark wet cool cold novembery (ha, did I invent this word?) months with leafless trees and bushes ... doesn't like leaflessness, naaa!

  5. I suspect that the weather landscape in which we live/grow up changes our essential character a lot. Could explain the out-going Australian character to some extent.

  6. Julie, but I assume there are many different climates/regions in Australia too?

    As in Germany, the northern Germans are very different from the southern Germans (not to talk about the Bavarians, that are an entirely different people I guess ...) which differ from the Germans living at the Rhine River etc etc etc ...

    *Martina now thinking about how the climate might have influenced her character*

  7. Martina, we do have weather variations across the country but they tend to be more from hot to luke warm rather than cold. In some parts the seasons are deliniated as wet/dry because it's always hot. Certainly there's just a tiny part of Australia that gets winter snow. Even having a 'four seasons' climate is restricted to the southern half of Australia.

    Now to Julie's proposition. I think the weather does shape the type of life we are able to live. But does that in turn shape our personality? Up in northern Australia the climate is always warm, the people tend to dress in more casual clothes and live a more casual lifestyle. Business tends to be slower and perhaps more personal. But does that make them happier, friendlier, less gloomy or whatever ... I not sure.

  8. Joan Elizabeth, there is definitely a difference between Northern, Middle and Southern Europeans - usually the Southern are seen as more relaxed and easy going.
    For me I can say I am more weather influenced/dependend with getting older - more tired when it is dark and rainy, more alert when the sun is shining (but of course it seldom gets really really hot around here - but I thrive with >25 °C ;-))


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