Berrying Time

Huckleberry season has arrived. These blue-black tasty fruits can be found in abundance in Vineyard Haven’s Lagoon woods and along up-Island roads and the West Tisbury bike path. They grow on bushes a foot or two high — higher than those producing lowbush blueberries but lower than those on which highbush blueberries grow. The berries themselves are larger than blueberries. Some people scorn huckleberries because their seeds are more noticeable than those of a blueberry. But true aficionados of berries likes them for their richer taste.

Mark Twain prized them, naming the hero of his greatest novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, for them. And Euell Gibbons, in his book Stalking the Wild Asparagus, finds huckleberry pie “the height of the pastrymaker’s art.”

Like all wild fruit, they are a delight to pick. Not only are they free for the picking, but berrying is a quiet, contemplative occupation, either alone in the tranquility of the woods or with a companion. The birds and the crickets are singing; the pines are soughing, the leaves of the oaks rustling softly. Beware of the shiny-leaved poison ivy that sometimes finds its way into huckleberry patches; the occasional garter snake also may startle a novice berry picker. But the joys of huckleberry picking and eating are worth a few such dangers.