Huckleberry hunters

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Huckleberry Finn.

Huckleberry Hound.

Huckleberry Friends.

And then there’s the regular old huckleberry—the fruit.

Former Morenci resident Herb Camburn  of Long Beach, Calif., brought up the subject recently in a round-about way.huckleberry_hunters

When he read the obituary of Phyllis Ries last month, he thought back to the fun his family and hers once had.

“Phyllis’s mother, Florence, was my mother’s very best friend,” Herb said.

Herb and Phyllis went to school together in the old Green School #7 on Yankee Highway.

When the time was right, the families would pack a picnic lunch and head for Shipshewana to pick huckleberries.  Back then, a drive to Shipshewana was considered a long trip.

“We went picking them on about one acre ‘pick your own’ huckleberry/blueberry patches that many of the Amish farms had developed in and around Shipshewana.

”The berry patches were usually at the back of the farm on the edge of their woods. It was an all-day venture complete with a mega-picnic lunch.”

Now back up a bit, Herb. What do you mean by huckleberry/blueberry?

Sure, I’ve heard of huckleberries, but I don’t recall ever seeing one.

Herb had a little difficulty with that statement. He was surprised I didn’t know huckleberries.

He says huckleberry is generally used to describe a type of wild blueberry. They’re known as bilberries in Europe.

Since Herb mentioned Art and Margaret Brewer in his letter, I went to the bookcase and fetched Cecil Billington’s “Shrubs of Michigan”—a treasured book that Art gave me after he moved to Colorado.

Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata): Much branched shrub, twigs more or pubescent, fruit a black drupe, edible; seeds about 10. Flowers in May and June, fruit ripe in July.

This must be the wild version—found in rocky woodlands, swamps and bogs. The tame version, as Herb knew it, grew in Amish gardens.

Herb included a clip of the lyrics to Mancini and Mercer’s Moon River that was included in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”:

“Two drifters off to see the world.

There’s such a lot of world to see.

We’re after the same rainbow’s end

waiting ’round the bend, my huckleberry friend,

Moon River and me.”

“Great memories, great friends,” writes Herb. “Thanks for bringing back the memories.”

No, Herb, the pleasure is ours. Send us some more.

    – June 20, 2007 
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