Sunshine warmed our car when we left home for the mountains. The air conditioning unit kicked in for the first time this year. Both of Aki’s people were in the car. We planned on climbing the ski hill to an upper meadows that might still hold snow. Aki the dog loves to roll in the unexpected stuff. When we arrived, we found the ski area still buried with thick, heavy snow, enough to allow people to ski. Wishing to avoid a heavy slog up the snow-buried mountains, we turned around.
On the way back we parked next to a connection of lower mountain meadows. We started to cross a snowfree one. The sun that had been lighting up the meadow disappeared behind a wall of clouds, making the temperature drop a bit. The colors of meadow and pine trees dropped as well. Wanting to salvage something from the visit, her other human and I lead Aki in a hunt for cranberries. In a few seconds we found a small scattering of them on a circle of red moss.
Early last Summer, tiny cranberry plants set flowers on the moist surface of the meadow. Tiny insects fertilized the flowers so the plants could produce dark, red berries. Birds ate some that fall. But most just laid on the muskeg meadow until covered with snow. This week, melting snow exposed the tart little berries, which we picked until we had enough to take home for a powerful little dessert.