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Huckleberry photo worth a thousand words

WILD EDIBLES — Vickie Garner Sienknecht said she's not much for poetry — shunning my request for submissions of Huckleberry Haiku — but this photo from last weekend, she says, clearly indicates how much she loves her huckleberries.

If I were to put Haiku words in her mouth, it might go like this:

Verse comes not to mind

Passions focused t'ward a pie

My heart bleeds purple.

Huckleberry festivals mark ripening of Idaho state fruit

WILD EDIBLES — The huckleberry harvest season is underway at lower elevations and the pleasure is working its way up the region’s mountainsides as the berries ripen. People and communities have taken note:

The berries are ripening at higher elevations this week, but the peak rage of ripe berries occurs in August. With my family in tow, I have to add hours to the hiking time into a Cabinet or Bitterroot mountains backpacking destination. It's hard to walk past a booming patch of hucks.

High areas in the Selkirk Mountains, such as Roman Nose, provide good picking into September.

Wild mushroomer goes ornamental over Christmas

WILD EDIBLES — For Metaline Falls mycologist Drew Parker, Christmas is the season to reflect on the Return of the Fungi, as you can see in the photo above.

Meantime, would you be shocked to discover that the secular tradition of Santa Claus and the flying reindeer was based on consumption of psychedelic fungi, the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria)?  Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service scientists, read the story here, and never look at Santa the same way again!

Outdoors daughter flexes mussel, eats weeds

FORAGING — Who says college grads can't make a living? 

My daughter, Hillary, is using skills she learned as a camp trip leader and kayak guide to make nutritional ends meet with a little Northwest foraging during a recent outing with her sister in the San Juan Islands. As her recent email reported:

When we went out kayaking, I harvested some mussels and we cooked them up last night in a curry! Brook had an abundance of nettles in her backyard so I picked a bag full and made nettle pesto last night! Here is a picture of my spring bounty. I froze a jar for you and mom. Even though I wore gloves, my fingers still tingled all night last night!

I told her I'm glad she knows how to cook stinging nettles: Better to have tingling fingers than a tingling colon.

She also said she's looking forward to feeding me some bull kelp chutney.

Fiddling around with wild edibles

NATIVE PLANTS — The wild asparagus has been popping up, and morel mushroom gatherers have been striking gold for weeks.

Next up:  Fern fiddleheads.   

Tip: Do your homework before eating any wild plant or mushroom.