A 'berry' frustrating tale

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 23:00
The author posing with his berry stash. This year, he says, is a “berry” good year for the delicious crops.

Anyone who isn’t aware we have one of the best berry crops in years has been locked inside a closet. If you’re inclined toward hiking above the tree line you’ll notice a proliferation of blueberries and crowberries. I haven’t seen it myself, but I’m told that down toward Girdwood and farther south on the Kenai Peninsula, the wild salmon berries and raspberries are also profuse.

As we move swiftly from summer to autumn and then winter, our roaming bears are probably much happier than in recent years, when a moth infestation severely blighted our berry crops. The infestation crept farther than one would expect. I even encountered signs of it deep into Peters Creek Valley.

I’m not going to divulge my favorite berry-picking spots here, so I’m sure many folks will cease reading at this point. All you have to do is ascend to about 2,000 feet, just about anywhere. Take off sunglasses. They seem to interfere with ‘berry vision.’

What I have is a ‘berry’ short tale from many years ago--about the time I altruistically made blueberry muffins for my family and some folks in our neighborhood.

Alaska blueberries are known for their high anti-oxidant content, but as you know, they are quite sour. When making anything with Alaska blueberries, such as muffins and pies, you need truckloads of sugar. As a quite amateur baker, even though my name is Baker, I neglected that simple step. Unlike the sweet and tender muffins found at Carrs, mine where admittedly, rather dry and bitter.

Proffering my creation upon my family, they smiled and thanked me for my efforts, but I didn’t notice them really going for them with much zeal. I carried a small platter to some of our closest neighbors and they smiled and thanked me.

On my next batch I upped the sugar ante and again set out into the neighborhood to right a blueberry muffin wrong. My wife says she watched through the living room window as I proudly carried a plate of my new muffins to two houses across the street. At both locations, there was no answer at the door, and I thought I saw curtains move.

That was the end of my short blueberry muffin career. I pick them, eat them with cereal, or on vanilla ice cream with gusto, but I don’t try to make anything as enterprising as muffins or pies. I’ll leave that to my wife or others who know how to handle sugar. I just don’t seem to have the knack.


Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River. Contact him at: [email protected].

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