Friday, May 30, 2014

A Little Huckleberry Morning

Dwarf Blueberry 'Vacinnium cespitosum' (c) John Ashley
Little pink Dwarf Blueberry blooms (my thumbnail for scale)

Is your huckleberry stash just about gone? Did you use up your frozen berries months ago, downing them as winter pancakes? Or, like me, do you hang on to the last dozen or so in the bottom of the baggie just to avoid the mental anguish that comes from the realization that you could be facing months of a berry-less existence?

It's okay. Help is on the way. The berry bushes are blooming again.

In these parts, everyone waits until Memorial Day Monday to put their cold-sensitive tomatoes plants in the ground. But we still had a light frost on Tuesday, when I found these Dwarf Blueberry (Vaccinium cespitosum) plants blooming on a 33F degree dawn, up in the North Fork. These are one of our smallest huckleberry species, and one of the sweetest. But you have to be a real aficionado to pick enough of these to make anything.

Native peoples used to dry these berries and make them into little cakes for trading. Maybe some still do. But with my fading eyesight, I'll stick to the lunkers, those big Mountain Huckleberries (V. membranaceum), each one as fat and big around as my thumbnail. Us old guys have to make efficient use of our remaining days.