It’s berry time in Alaska again! Here’s a post about berry picking from August of 2016.
My husband and I recently drove to Sheep Mountain Lodge on the Glenn Highway. It has lovely mountain views, hiking trails, and a good restaurant. We planned to take a hike and have dinner there, until someone at the lodge told us the berries were out. Change in plans—time to get some blueberries.
My hubby and I love wild Alaska blueberries. Nothing in the grocery store has the same sweet, tangy, powerful taste. So we found something to collect our berries in and headed down the trail.
I enjoy picking berries, too. It’s one of the few times I get into the Zone, that Zen feeling when I’m one with my surroundings and live in the moment. Hours can slip past as my mind focuses on the blue jewels hanging in the bushes.
Of course, being a writer—after the first couple hours, I also end up thinking about stories. This time I was reminded of a berry picking scene with Henry and Stinky in my latest book, Gold Nuggets. Henry is a wealthy Easterner and Stinky is an old Alaskan guide.
“There’s a berry patch up ahead.” Stinky got down from his saddle and plowed into the bushes. Henry followed.
After a few minutes, Stinky pointed. On the branches of some low bushes, there were round red leaves next to small blueberries. “That’s what we’re looking for. Don’t pick ’em if they’re kind of reddish-purple. The blue ones are ripe.” He took his slouch hat off and started putting berries into it.
Henry was sorry he’d lost his campaign hat. It would have held a lot of berries. He dug out the percolator from the top of a saddlebag and started gathering berries into that. He popped one blueberry into his mouth and enjoyed the burst of tart-sweet taste. The blueberries were small but packed with flavor. He picked more quickly as his eyes grew used to ignoring everything else and seeking out the blue dots of berries among the leaves.
Stinky called over to him a few bushes away. “This is a good time for you to talk, to keep the bears at a distance.”
Henry smiled at the permission to talk. “All right. I should have figured that the bears would like berries too. If they hear our voices, they’ll stay away and find their own berry patch.
“So, Stinky, I have to say this trip has been one in a million. I have seen more than most tourists ever will in Alaska. And I’ve really enjoyed the people here, you included. When I get back to the States, I will do what I can to help that park bill pass.”
Henry paused as he looked for the next bush of blueberries.
“Good,” Stinky said.
Mabel snorted as she found another patch of horse-edible plants.
“Mabel’s pretty happy about it too, I can tell,” Henry said. They laughed.
The next day, my husband made his famous blueberry sourdough pancakes and I used the rest for blueberry muffins. Another good thing about berry picking–you can taste the fruits of your labor!