Huckleberry Blues

The huckleberries we have in PA have a sharp tangy sweetness unlike the big fat Southern berries in bowlblueberries. Huckleberries are smaller, a darker purple and shiny instead of a dusty blue. I dearly love them! I managed to get up to PA during their season this year, and picked quite a few. It was an odd year. Some years they are scant, some yearsabundant…but this year was….well, berries seemed to be ripening one by one in any given cluster. I could go through picking one by one  by one through the bushes, and the nextday, more would be ripe on the same places on the bushes. But by picking every day of the week I was there, I got a cup or two each day. Which I brought home and froze. After eating quite a few, of course!

huckleberryI used to write stories in my head while picking berries. It is a slow process, and gives one plenty of time to think . I would imagine myself as a prairie girl, picking sweet berries for pie now and jams and jellies later. I imagined picnics and childhood freedoms, and roaming through the woods for adventures. Fantasy stories, with mermaids and fairies and dragons and salamanders and wood nymphs. Sometimes I would remember enough to write them down later. I found myself writing mental stories even this yearas I picked. not so much fantasy now, but short stories. Not so much childhood, but adults. Still mermaids, though. And still jams and jellies and pies and living form the land, preserving and canning – uncommon things. we all had ‘favorite’ bushes – the ones where the blueberryberries were just as we liked them – small or big, tangy or sweet, dark purple or lighter blue.

Excellent on cereal (especially frozen, so that when you pour the milk on, it clings to the frozen berries), and in hot oatmeal, where the berries begin to break down and color it with lovely purple swirls. Excellent as a snack. Wonderful as streusel coffeecake, as pie, muffins, in pound cake, as jam or jelly.

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