The Clarendon Way begins where Salisbury dissipates into a farmer's field. The field is splayed across a clutch of smooth chalky hills that fold into woodland at the creases. Hills like these appear strangely symmetrical to a girl from the Rocky Mountains: like those drawn by a child, or the curves of an egg batter folding in on itself.**
The farmer's field leads upward to the ruins of Clarendon Palace on a hill, where cows graze on tall weeds around the few remaining stone walls of the structure. From here the path meanders off off into deep gruffalo wood, where you can easily get lost if you are not paying enough attention.
Eventually the path disappears in a tiny confusing village, where the local pub is a little like the Slaughtered Lamb. The village has a beautiful name: Winterslow. I suspect it means 'place of many lost ramblers' in old English.
|Foraging for mischief.|
Papa and I both grew up in the high desert, so we were entirely unprepared for what we saw along the Clarendon Way: a gazillion blackberries. The hedges were buckling under the weight of them, and no one else seemed to be stopping or taking notice except for us two. We ate hundreds - possibly thousands - giggling like little kids. Our tongues and our hands were fuschia. Our entire insides must have turned purple. We ate until we could eat no more.
Youthful memories tend to get sealed in saccharine laminate as time goes by - glossed over and folded into the egg batter narrative of life.*** But there are these little moments of intense sensory discovery that stay fresh and really stick to the mind like cockleburs.
This year we scavenged on the Heath, and turned what remained of our loot (after taste testing) into pear and blackberry crumble.
I have learned that it is dangerous to return to the actual location of your happiest memories. For this reason, I fear the blackberry way has become more a place in time than in actual geography.
So we will forage wherever the wind takes us. Who knows? Maybe the wind will take us back to Salisbury again someday.
Blackberries grow on thorny indestructible vines - essentially barbed wire - with the sort of scary lust for plant life that is only matched by kudzu. And they did so long before riots went digital.
I suspect the organic not electronic form of my favourite berry will long outlive us mere humans, kept company by twinkies and cockroaches.
**As a lapsed Lutheran, I can only visualise things in terms of casserole.
***As above, I blame my casserole genes.