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This report is taken from PN Review 208, Volume 39 Number 2, November - December 2012.

Dog Days Neil Powell
'Late August, given heavy rain and sun / For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.' Perhaps they will yet, for we've now had sufficient quantities of rain and sun, although each has come in sudden merciless bursts of intensity. Last year was a rotten year for blackberries, unless I just missed them. Either way, by the time I went in search of what I'd foolishly taken to be my secret supply - a quiet brambly footpath between here and the church at Sudbourne - there weren't any worth having; thus one of the ritual pleasures which announce the welcome return of autumn, the season's first apple and blackberry pie or crumble, was cruelly denied me. Blackberries aside, late August has always been a useless time, especially since the Bank Holiday was ridiculously moved from its proper place at the start of the month. Before then, one could at least clutch at the mingled promise and sadness of an imminent new school year, faint strands of autumnal creativity already blowing in the air. Now there's the stress of yet another overheated, overcrowded and overfed weekend before it's all over. You can tell when I'm writing these words.

Even the garden has grown confused. Gardening and writing seem to me such obviously compatible occupations that I sometimes can't see how practitioners of the latter get by without the former (I'd be the last to insist that all gardeners should write, though an awful lot do); while the pleasures seem broadly ...

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