Always Taste Like Summer


(Rain collected on sundews)

I listen to Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” as I write a summary of this morning’s walk. The ancient rock music provides a suitable background for the just ended shuffle across several rain softened muskeg meadows for cloudberries. (rubus chamaemours). This summer presents the first opportunity in the 26 years that we’ve lived in Southeast Alaska to pick the plump, yellow fruit.

AkiNear Bethel, Alaska, Aki’s other human and I picked cloudberries on the tundra. Like everyone on the Kuskokwim River, we called them salmonberries. The name made sense to a river people because when ripe the segmented berries look like a broken skein of salmon roe. We ate them in cereal, on ice cream, or mixed with sugar, whitefish, and whipped Crisco shortening (as akutaq or Eskimo ice cream). Aki’s other full time human called them hjortron when she ate them mixed with Swedish buttermilk at a friend’s breakfast table in Avesta.

flowe(River Beauty or Dwarf Fireweed)

Sweetened by northern sun and the solitude enjoyed while meadow picking, the berries always taste of summer whether collected on tundra, muskeg, or Swedish hillside.


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