These items are all growing wild in untended patches of hillside, so I guess they are free for the taking.
I’ve been watching the blackberries for the last weeks as they went from flowers to gnarly little green berries – finally they are ripe and as sweet as can be.
The grapes are very small, as you can see, but they explode with flavor in the mouth. They have climbed up a nespolo (medlar tree). The nespolos around here are all afflicted with some disease that turns the fruit black and wizzened, so we never get to harvest that.
The fig is also miniature, but the tree it’s from is enormous and uncared for and sprawling. The fruits are just beginning to ripen. I don’t happen to care for figs, but the captain does, so this one will not go to waste.
Behind it all is a sprig of bay, the kind that we used to buy in New England to flavor our stews and soups. We have a bay tree beside our house, but it’s nice to know that anyone along the road can have as much bay as they need from the large stand that grows there. The road crew hacks it back each year as it encroaches on the highway sight-lines (yes, the same wide highway that you will read about soon in “Parking”… stay tuned); the annual pruning keeps it low, thick and extremely productive.
No matter the season, it seems there’s something to be harvested in the wild. Now it’s grapes, blackberries and figs; soon it will be mushrooms and chestnuts; in the spring it’s the wild herbs and greens to make preboggion. Probably a lot of these roadside plants have sprung up from seeds the birds have dropped or from discarded plant material. It’s the kind of litter I like.