A Stroll Along the River
It’s my first visit to Milne Graden, and what better way to become familiar with a place than to get out and experience it, with all the senses. And, as the river is such an integral part of what Milne Graden is all about, a stroll along the Tweed seems like the perfect way to begin (also with two very active dogs, a walk is strictly non-negotiable!).
As I make my way along the path, the river ebbs and flows beside me, my view punctuated by a canopy of leaves, back-lit by the autumn sun. At once, my ears are filled with a crescendo of wooshing and crashing as the river widens and thunders over a step of rock. Simultaneously, there is a flurry overhead, as the wind runs its fingers through the leaves. As I advance up, and around a corner, the wind is gone. The river spreads itself lazily between its banks, and once more, tranquility is restored. The route is an ideal mix of up and down, the river close beside me at times, further in the background at others, proving intrigue with every twist and turn.
What a privilege it is to get to know somewhere at the beginning of autumn, the loveliest of seasons. Everywhere I look, things are baring the fruits of their labour, creating a wondrous display of abundance and colour. To me, this is warmth’s final flourish before Winter sweeps in, and strips everything back to its bare bones.
Ahead, I can see the trees give way to a beautiful open vista and the golden light pours down on the aptly named “Sunnyside”. As I pause to take in the view, I feel the need to gather some momentos of the occasion. Autumn does offer up particularly good keepsakes, just a glance downwards reveals a wealth of sculptural ephemera for the taking. The ground becomes a treasure trove of the season’s remnants; fallen leaves awash with vivid hues and swathes of Sycamore “helicopters” hanging gracefully like Christmas baubles, from their branches. All around me there is a tapestry of textures, colours and fruitfulness.
I can’t help eyeing the glossy plump brambles readily available along the path. Always thinking of my next meal, I reach out to sample. The ripe berry comes away with ease – it’s just asking to be devoured. As I hold it in my fingers, the inkiest black-purple gives way to an explosion of deep-plum juice. And they don’t fall short on flavour either – better have another one to be sure. My hungry mind turns to thoughts of the kitchen; these really would be wonderful in a jam… Luckily – I find out later – the forager has already got that covered!
As I continue on, the culinary ideas gain momentum as my eyes flit between bowing branches, heavy with apples and fruit-laden elderberry trees. What’s that old adage? “what grows together, goes together…”
All of a sudden, a roedeer bounds into the tall grass – she’s as startled as I am! And she’s definitely not sticking around for a photo op! I watch as she skips and darts towards the trees. As I turn back to the path, a chill in the breeze reminds me the afternoon is marching on, and the light has started to dip. So, with full pockets, it’s time to make my way home and think of what’s for tea…