Sunday, September 26, 2004

Mother Nature's Big Luscious Raspberries


Overhead is an overcast sky hanging low. The equinox is past and light levels have fallen greatly. At latitude 52 degrees north, even when the sky is clear, the sun is now much lower and the shadows much longer. Plants can get more energy from one sunny mid-summer day than they do from three of these days. Temperatures don't determine how much food reserves they can build. Gusty windy days have been blowing and the certain misery of another British winter lies ahead.

Getting the garden ready for its windy soggy grey frosty sleep, I spy from my little eye: Red, bulbous raspberries. The last summer fruit in a climate where if you were left to the elements, you might not live to see another spring.

After the first flush of raspberries was gone, this cane came springing up from the ground in July. With the wetness of this year's August, it flowered and set fruit bigger and juicier than the earlier berries.

My bright moment in a day forced to listen to the high-pitched whining from the fan of my neighbour's central-heating boiler.

A grey squirrel has for the last week come regularly to feed on the hazelnuts. Red squirrels are already driven to extinction in most parts of England, and I don't know if there is any point any more to trying to control the grey squirrels. The red squirrel is a different species to the introduced grey squirrel. Its method of demise included the bastardy of the grey squirrels physically "raping" the female red squirrels, thus disabling them from reproducing since they are genetically incompatible.

Strangely enough, in Canada, there are just as many black squirrels as grey squirrels, but in England, I have never seen a black squirrel.

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