Rain drops sparkle like costume jewelry on each blueberry leaf. Blue berries hang among the sparkles like planets in a model solar system. I have to step around red-tinted bear scat to reach the berries. The bears must be ignoring blueberries and concentrating on the red-colored high bush cranberries.
Before seeing the bear poop, I had been feeling a little guilty about picking berries that the bears might need to get through the winter. I never worried about that in past years when the bears had plenty of salmon and berries to harvest. But the red salmon they usually fatten up on have not returned to their spawning grounds and this has been a bad berry year.
After picking a quart of berries, I follow Aki onto a bear trail and walk to the edge of a small forest pond. A high bush cranberry bush dominates a small island in the middle of the pond. The limbs of the bush stretch out over the pond ‘s surface, which reflects the red leaves. The reflected leaves are the color of claret. The original ones are as pale as paper mâché.