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Black Out

Blackthorn

Blackthorn

Something we’ve missed this winter / spring, since we moved from over there to over here, are Blackthorn hedges. Almost all the hedges in the area seem to be Hawthorn. Suddenly the Blackthorn is in flower and we are finding occasional bushes, here and there in a fairly random sprinkle, in amongst the seamless green of the Hawthorn. If the winter hadn’t hung on for so long we would probably have noticed them earlier, but at least they are now trying to catch up and stay ahead of the May blossom.

The fruit that will be the result of these flowers is the sloe. Funny isn’t it? Why didn’t the bushes get called Sloethorn? Plums grow on a plum tree, apples on an apple tree and so on, but sloes grow on Blackthorn. According to Wikipedia the word sloe has roots in German and Slavic words for a plum. This makes it related to things like Slivovitz, that very nice Polish plum brandy. Interestingly Slivovitz is made by fermenting the fruit complete with crushed stone, adding that hint of almond to the flavour.

The other interesting thing about the Blackthorn is that it provides the wood for the traditional Irish shillelagh. Whether this is because it is particularly well adapted for hitting people over the head, or just because there’s a lot of it about, I’m not sure.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves was written in 1945 – in French. The original poem was written by Jacques Prévert and the music by Joseph Kosma (thank you Wikipedia). Even though it was sung by Yves Montand – yes, you remember him – it wasn’t until Johnny Mercer wrote the English words that it really took off. It’s still being recorded by the upcoming artists today and has become a popular jazz standard, not bad for a song that is pushing 68 this year. I wonder how many of today’s ‘wun rap wunders’ will be remembered in seventy years? To be fair, of course, there was a lot of terrible music around in the ’40s too – thankfully it’s mostly gone and luckily completely forgotten.

Bananas, like leaves are only green because their skins are laced with chlorophyll and like leaves as the chlorophyll breaks down the yellow shows up better and better and they start to look ripe and appetising (if you like bananas).

The leaves of other trees don’t seem to have as appetising an appearance – but they do look pretty.

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