Anna ran outside. Her long,
auburn braids were tied tightly with red ribbons, near the end of the
braid. They bounced up and down against her head. She picked up the wicker
basket and put it over her arm. "Mum, Iím going to pick some black
currants. Can we make some black currant jelly tonight, after I get back,
or how about black currant cheese? I love that!" Anna called to her mum,
who was busy hanging clothes on the rope wash line.
"Thatíll be good, Anna. See
if you can see some red currants too. You know how your father enjoys
them, especially the pink and white ones. Do try to not get covered with
juice," she smiled to her daughter.
"Iíll be careful, Mum. Iíll
be back in a little bit." Off she went. The air felt damp to Anna as she
headed towards the woods. It always seemed to be raining. Anna wished that
just one day it wouldnít rain. Her mum had explained, "When you live on an
island off the coast of Northern Scotland, this is the way it is." Anna
liked the rain, but sometimes got tired of it.
Sturdy oaks, enormous elms,
and fragrant pines grew not far from her house. It was rare to see
currants of any type this far north, but the glen where Anna lived was
protected from the cold sea winds that blew ferociously in other parts of
Anna pushed her way through
the tree branches. Pine needles, pointed, yet soft, tickled her arms as
she brushed by them. She loved hearing the twigs crunch as she trampled
over them. She quickly spotted some black currant bushes. She could smell
them too; the leaves and berries were very fragrant and sweet smelling.
She picked the berries off the stalks, being careful not to make too big
of a mess. Into the basket they went.
As she was picking them she
heard a bird chirping. She looked up into the oak tree that spread like an
umbrella, protecting the currant bushes and other shrubs from the harsh
weather. "Hello, wee birdie. Are you singing for Anna?" The crested tit, a
little brown and white bird, warbled as Anna continued plucking the
berries from the bush. "Wee birdie, Iím picking the currants so we can
have black currant tea and black currant jelly, and even some black
currant cheese. Do you like to eat currants?" The bird, perched on the
overhanging branch, ignored Anna and kept singing. "Thatís all right, wee
birdie. You go ahead and sing." After sheíd picked half a basket of black
currants, she said, "Wee birdie, Iím off to look for some red currants. Do
you know where any are?" Again, it ignored her questions. "Never mind
then. Iíll find them myself," Anna said and walked deeper into the woods.
The woods were full of lush
green ferns. They were like huge fans, curly at the sides and ends.
Bracken, just beginning to turn green after the bitterness of winter
weather, lay thick and matted, covering the ground like a brown carpet.
Anna climbed through it, pushing the ferns out of the way. Gorse, with
tiny, buttery yellow flowers, grew alongside the red currants. "There you
are," she said, reaching for them. They were ripe and juicy looking,
bright red, like a stormy sunrise reflecting on the clouds. She picked
several branches and put them in the basket. She couldnít see any pink
currants, or any white ones. Satisfied with what she had, a full basket,
Anna headed home.
"Mum," she cried out. "Iím
back. Iíve got a whole basket filled with currants, black and red." She
opened the door and went inside. Her mum was pulling something out of the
oven. "Oh, Mum. You didnít, did you? You made some oatmeal scones with
"Yes, Anna. I know, theyíre
your favorite. I knew after youíd been out in the dampness gathering
currants, that youíd like something hot and buttery. Now, set the basket
down on the table and then sit down and have some hot scones with butter
and blackberry jam." She put a plate piled high with scones, hot and
flaky, onto the table.
Anna sat down. She reached
over and took one. She put a big spoon full of fresh butter on it, which
ran down, melting all over her hands. She took a bite. "Oh, Mum. These are
delicious. Will you make some black currant jelly and some black currant
Annaís mum laughed. "We can
make some tomorrow. Now go and wash up, and do your other chores. Your
father will be home soon. Iíve got a big pot of lamb stew for supper."
"Does it have carrots and
onions in it, Mum?" Anna asked, licking her lips.
"Itís filled with onions,
carrots, and turnips, fresh from our garden. Theyíre bubbling away in the
"I canít wait," Anna said,
running into the living room to begin her chores.
That night Anna and her
family had a wonderful supper. Anna showed her father the currants sheíd
picked. He was looking forward to some black currant cheese the next night
when he came home from work. Anna lay in her bed, tired after a long day.
When she closed her eyes she could smell the black currants and hear the
crested tit warbling. She dreamed sweet dreams about her day in the woods.
Black Currant Cheese is
delicious and is made by putting equal parts of stalked currants and loaf
sugar into a pan; place over low heat and stir until the sugar has
dissolved, then bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the time. Remove
all scum and simmer for an hour, stirring often. Rub the fruit through a
hair sieve, return the puree to the pan, and stir until it boils, then put
it into small pots and cover like jam.