Whortleberry, dewberry, bilberry, blueberry; mountain-this or thinleaved-that; big or blue or dwarf or globe, the huckleberry goes by may names. It grows wild and only wild, in the remote areas of American’s inland Northwest from Oregon to Alaska, the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide.
The huckleberry is a living exhibit of the colors purple ca be, from deepest black to blues and reads. Smooth and round, about the size of garden peas, they are often described in terms of the hands used to pick them: “like the end of my little finger.” or “about the size of my fingernail.” Any mention of thumbs indicates very good picking. Huckleberry bushes range from knee- to chest-high on a person, or haunch to heard on a short bear.
In appearance the berry may seem somewhat unremarkable, and off the bush might even be mistaken for an ordinary blueberry. Once in the mouth, however, there can be no doubt: this is something else entirely. And her the trouble begins, because for those who have tastes mountain huckleberries, no description is needed; and for those who haven’t, description is impossible. How do you describe the colors in yesterday’s sunset, the smell of today’s breezem the tastes of a waterfall?
One huckleberry cook knows better than to try. She says, “I just open a jar and hand them a spoon.”