Feasting on Nature’s Bounty

This year, with our profusion of spring and summer rains, we have a profusion of lush blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, dewberries, cloudberries, and you name it! They all seem to love granite underpinning, especially on our mountain summits where they can count on plenty of sun.

Some prefer extreme conditions. They like to be baked in the sun or pounded with hail and wind or packed in ice and snow. Others abound near bogs, dips in the granite where water collects and moves through slowly even in the higher elevations. They won’t survive transplanting to temperate home gardens. Our White Mountain ridges are virtual alpine gardens that provide continuous bloom from May through October.

Any hike is immediately rewarded, especially to the less traveled summits. Recently, we skirted the Chocorua summit to avoid the crowd and went over to the Middle Sisters. They were covered with abundant blueberries. A lush wild raisin bush was loaded and still seasoning to supply us when the blueberries finish.

Hikes in the mountains inspire people from all walks: writers, maintenance people, artists, designers, builders, teachers, homemakers, tourist and recreation staff; the list is endless. We welcome a change of pace whether we walk or take a gondola or tram to explore some mountain, some place away from our usual stomping ground.

Whether our hike is a short snort up to Artist’s Bluff or a longer one up to Franconia Ridge, stopping at outlooks along the way, there is something about looking out across vast beautiful stretches of woodland that begins to put the rest of life in perspective. Whatever pressures we carry with us in our daily lives get released and we feel refreshed. The berries we graze on seem powerful in their ability to satisfy even in small quantities.

One caution: poison ivy is in the same family (Rhus) as dewberry and shares the 3 shiny leaves/bristly stem identifiers. I recently found a bed of dewberry on a trail that was mixed with poison ivy. Dewberry fruit looks like a black raspberry when ripe. Poison ivy fruit is gray or whitish and the whole plant is very poisonous to the touch in all seasons for most people.

Here’s to keeping a sharp eye and enjoying the whole feast!

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