15 SEPTEMBER 1950, Page 12


A neighbouring cottager was in some doubt whether to go black- berrying or gleaning. The kindly fruits of the earth have been very kindly (in the other sense) this last month. The blackberries are large and luscious and numerous beyond the ordinary ; and succeed good crops of wild raspberries. Two villagers recently sought way-leave through my paddock, one to glean, the other to blackberry, and-they gathered their respective harvests within a few yards of one another. The reason for their proximity was thrs. In these days of many machines and few labourers, no scythe is called in to mow the edges, and the rapid, efficient, but careless juggernauts crush a good deal of grain near the edge and leave a cer5in amount uncut at the side of the hedge. The result is rich gleaning,-now once more a general habit, and better- fed village-poultry. If only there were also a return to the "gleaning loaf," which remains in my memory as the sweetest bread ever tasted. Another fruit ripening in great abundance is the hazel-nut, but it is strangely neglected by country people. If they do not eat the nuts themselves, they may be reminded that no feed is more welcome in winter to many birds, including the finches. The cultivated nuts are in amazing profusion.