Meditations

Salmonberries Are Here!


Salmonberries

K. and I have lived in Vancouver for two years now, and have had little to do with the spectacular setting which frames the city. This last weekend, however, we got out of the house and into the woods for a little fresh air and nature time over on the North Shore. To Mount Seymour Park we went, and amid the tranquil stands of age-old trees, between the breathtaking viewpoints and bird-loud glades we found, quite by accident, delicious food: rubus spectabilis, the Pacific salmonberry.

Salmonberries occur in the forests of the Pacific Maritime ecozone, from British Columbia’s western coastline north to Alaska and south to Northern California. They particularly like the open spaces and partial shade in forests of Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar, which means that they thrive around nearly every hairpin turn on the trails in Mt. Seymour Park. How convenient!

It’s said the berries take their name from the First Nations people’s fondness for eating them with half-dried salmon roe. Me, I like them straight from the shrub, sans roe. There are also those who say that they are generally bland, or that the paler yellow ones have more flavour than the red ones, but these claims are simply not borne out by the evidence. The North Shore berries, they are the opposite of bland. With their variegated tones of yellow, orange and red offer delicately flavoured intimations of better things to come. Their subtlety is an unbesmirched promise, a potential future that the base raspberry and slatternly blackberry, with their earthly delights, could never deliver. Or something like that.

Me, I can’t wait for this weekend when I’ll get me some more fresh air and some more wild salmonberries, and share them with a friend who’s gratitude I’d like to cultivate and who has the refined taste to appreciate them.

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