Abundance in Nature
The other day as we were out scouting for new springs on the mountain, (springs new to us, not springs new in existence and another form of the abundance in nature out here), I looked at the shrubs around me. The airy, twisty trees looked familiar and my excitement grew as the realization dawned on me. It was a large collection of huckleberry bushes and trees. And there were so many leftover berries on many of the bushes! This year must have been a particularly abundant year for them. There were even enough that all the bears (we have lots of bears here) and birds had left a few for me to sample.
In the past I’ve brought home starts from other locations in the effort to get these growing at our own land and none of them ever took. I’d become resigned that to get any wild berries I’d have to forage farther from home than I like. So I was quite elated to find these.
Of course I tasted one of the not-so-shriveled berries to see if it was good and tasty. And it was.
As I looked around and surveyed the patch, I was struck by the abundance. And by the abundance potential. In my mind I pictured how many berries must be there during prime season. There’s enough here for wildlife AND for me!
Now I can’t wait for the season to arrive when I’ll go back on the mountain with a small pail to gather enough for some jelly. They’re not tasty enough to eat handfuls of them fresh, but are tart enough to promise the most delicious of jellies.
Wild Fruit Jelly
Last year our wild plum trees had an abundant year. I made about a dozen jars of wild plum jelly and loved every jar I managed to hold back instead of giving away.
My favorite kind of jelly is mayhaw, a fruit of a hawthorn tree that grows wild down in Louisiana where I grew up. I’ve missed that jelly since moving up here and after reading one of the comments over at Dave’s Garden, I am most eager to try the huckleberry jelly. That commenter said it was better than mayhaw. I find that difficult to imagine, but I’m certainly willing to test it and find out.
Forging the Nature Connection
Foraging, harvesting and preparing foods and treats from our own land helps me to feel connected to nature. Even if you don’t own land, you can learn about the plants that grow in the area where you live. When you have time, make trips to your nearest wild areas to see what you can find. It’s not a good idea to sample plants you’re not certain about, though, because many of the berries are either toxic or inedible, but by becoming familiar with what’s around you it’ll help to foster that connection. Even knowing what is not good to eat is a helpful knowledge to have. There may be someone in your area who can help you make sure of plant identification so you can safely sample some of nature’s wares.
About the Huckleberry
These huckleberries grow on small trees. They’re commonly called “farkleberries” or “sparkleberries”, depending on the local terminology used to describe them. They are a species of the blueberry genus (Vaccinium arboreum). Each fruit is fairly small, maybe 1/4″ or slightly larger or smaller. They taste similar to blueberries, but not as moist and not as sweet.
Here are some links if you’d like to learn more about the Farkleberry: