W IS FOR WHEEL OF THE YEAR

Have you felt a bit of end-of-summer tristesse this year?  A twinge of dread at the thought of the nights drawing in, and the coming of the cold months?

Take heart! It’s not that time yet. Late summer/early autumn is its own time, with its own leisurely rhythm.  We don’t have a name for it, but in the pagan year it falls between Lughnasadh, the first harvest celebration on August 1,  and Mabon, the celebration of the second harvest and autumn equinox, on September 23 this year.

I have just started dipping my toes into the waters of paganism, and I rather like the Wheel of the Year.  It marks out time in a way that is both grounded and special.  It feels intuitively right to me.

A beautiful Wheel, by an unknown artist, whom I would like to acknowledge if I only knew their name.

So this time is the time of misty mornings, late roses and spiders, of runner beans and sweet corn, of the first tinge of gold on the green leaves of summer, and the time of early apples.   But above all it is the time of blackberries.  And you still have time to go foraging for them, because this year Nature has been truly abundant.

Ripe blackberries

Here is a recipe for the time of year.

BLACKBERRY AND APPLE CRUMBLE

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients

For the fruit filling

  • Cooking apples – 3 medium/large
  • Black berries – enough to fill a coffee mug to the top, more if you like
  • Sugar – 2 TB

For the crumble

  • Butter 100g
  • Oats – 2 handfuls
  • Hazle nuts – 1 handful
  • Plain flour – enough to make the crumble mix up to 200g

To make

You will need a large oven proof dish.  I used a Pyrex one with a lid.

  1. Heat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6
  2. Wash the blackberries gently.  A surprising amount of stuff comes off.
  3. Peel, core and slice the apples into a bowl.  Mix in the sugar.
  4. Chop the hazle nuts coarsely.
  5. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour, then mix in the oats and hazle nuts.
  6. Put the apples into the oven proof dish and gently mix in the blackberries.  Scatter the crumble mix evenly on top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and let it cool a bit.  You want it hot, but not incandescent.
  9. What to serve it with?  Vanilla ice cream? Custard? Cream?  A delightful dilema, which I leave to you!

Note: the trick is to be generous with the blackberries

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