Eating the Mountain

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Perhaps the seeds arrived in the bowels of a bear. Coulda been a bird or even a coyote. Whoever is responsible for establishing this patch of wild blueberries on the boggy margins of this small Cascade lake has my gratitude. The scat is long gone but the patch is prolific. While huckleberries enjoy a more prestigious place among wild fruit, these are in fact wild-grown and still nearly sacred in my view.  I didn’t come prepared to pick berries today but the bounty inspires me to take more than I can eat while here so my bottle is employed as a receptacle.

At some point in the coming winter, I’ll make a cobbler or pie or blueberry pancakes enjoying an instant connection to the mountains where these blue gems were gathered. Soil built from volcanic eruptions and eons of vegetative succession is rich in minerals and nutrients. I can taste that acidic soil as the berries explode in my mouth. The thin conifer-scented air has exchanged gases with the plant creating the sugars that sweeten the fruit. As I chew I can smell the firs and feel my pulse quicken. In passing through their life cycles organisms as small as nematodes and as large as bears have given back to the soil. Scat and skin, bone and claw, helped build the soil with a fertilizer so pure. I swallow feeling the strength of the black bear and the wisdom of the worm. The mountain’s essence enters to me through this one simple fruit. And I am grateful.

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