Hjorton Picking

Aki looks frustrated. She sees no point in lingering on this remote mountain meadow, which is well off the beaten dog walker track. Why leave that rich environment to fill a recycled yogurt container with yellow berries? 

            I’d have much luck explaining my actions to the darning needle dragonfly that just landed on a weathered trail board as to the little dog. She has never bounced across a tundra meadow in Western Alaska during cloudberry picking time. She’s never climbed to a Swedish meadow in search of hjorton, the name the Swedes have given the cloudberry.

            I stop to plop one of the segmented berries into my mouth and remember watching families on a tundra plain near Bethel gathering in gallons of cloudberries, which they call “salmonberries,” so they could enjoy wild fruit during the coming winter. The kids giggled, the parents smiled and let all their worries disappear as they harvested summer. 

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