The sun warms the earth and the days lengthen as we head toward the summer solstice. The garden has begun to give up its bounty. Mulberries, raspberries and currants hang heavy from the branches, laden with sunkissed sweetness. Every morning I head out, basket in hand, to compete with the other denizens of the garden for an equal share of the good stuff. I’m fighting a losing battle for the mulberries; between the husband and the birds we’re lucky if any actually reach the kitchen. Raspberries are a better bet. There’s enough for both the birds and the house, share and share alike. Currants are another matter entirely as no one can be persuaded to eat those fresh.
Currants are strictly for the birds (literally) and for making jelly. The currant bushes are heavy with red and white berries. A month ago I didn’t even know that they were there. The 3 day hedge marathon led to the discovery of the bushes nestled under the hedge and a lonely pine at the back of the driveway. Several days later I found 2 more bushes at the back of our acre, so 5 bushes in all makes a lot of berries. The bushes under the hedge are the most prolific, some of the berries are huge (for currants). The largest of those is absolutley dripping with red currants. The branches are so heavy that they’ve drooped to the ground creating a shady hollow beneath. The berries hang below and the branches have to be lifted to reach them.
The day was already warm as I worked my way around the currant bush. I had already picked the ripe berries from the top of the bush and had begun to harvest the branches hanging on the ground. I lifted the last branch to see a medium sized heap of feathers piled against the base of the bush. On closer examination I could see that it was not a heap of feathers but a dead black bird. It must have crawled away to die under the cool branches of the currant bush. I don’t know what led to its death. There were no obvious marks on it…no one appeared to have been dining on it (which is usually the case around a house with 2 cats). It was so lovely and cool under the branches of the currant bush. I like to think that maybe the bird found some small respite or easement of pain as it lay under those branches. I realize that it’s a subjective assessment but I thought the bird seemed to be at peace. I decided to leave it there. As far as I know it’s still there in the cool hollows underneath the branches; laying still, surrounded by busy beetles and slowly ripening currants.