Seamus Heaney's grave, Bellaghy
We were in Portglenone yesterday collecting vegetables for the kune kunes and decided to drive over to Bellaghy to visit Seamus Heaney's grave. It is just over a fortnight since he was laid to rest in that quiet cemetery and, it appears, that there is not a daylight hour passes that his grave is without visitors. It is a beautiful spot, Heaney's last resting place. Homely. I found myself thinking, as I've often thought at graves - Taken far too soon. There was still so much to do.
And that is the way it is. We live and we die.
Last year when I picked blackberries I filled my ears with Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong and Nelson Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom. This year, no iPod so I just did thinking. Last year I thought about blackberry wine and jam and crumbles. Last year my audiobook blocked out anxious thoughts about my cousin Joe who was dying from a brain tumour. This year I thought of the very first Heaney poem I ever read. The blackberry one. I must have been in my early teens, the poet in his late twenties. It was the first piece of poetry I'd ever come across that spoke of the life I knew. I recognised that lust for picking.
So I picked blackberries and I got scratched and stung, my fingers stained purple and I thought about how fleeting and ephemeral life can be. We live, we die. We wither, we rot. No matter how much we love people, no matter how much we need them - they might leave us. Or we leave them.
Morbid? No. It is just life. Which is for living. The very best we can.
And that is why I will be making wine from my blackberries.