(Tips for the prospective Idahoan.)
Huckleberries. A strange little thing. The quickest way to start a war or thank a North Idahoan revolves around this strange little berry.
If you would like to offend the Idahoan I can give you the quickest route. The Huckleberry.
As in my previous post (on North Idaho Life), I informed you the Idahoan is a fiercly patriotic/loyal creature; to their country, state and county. But that pales in comparison to how a North Idahoan feels about Huckleberries.
Let me explain. To those of you who don’t know what a Huckleberry is look at the provided photos and educate yourself. You will NOT be accepted by the Idahoan until, at least once, your fingers have been stained purply-blue.
Now! Don’t you dare say they are blueberries! Goodness me. If you do that in front of, within earshot of, or in a fashion that an Idahoan will find out you said it you best look out. It doesn’t matter that they are in the same family. It doesn’t matter if researchers have a hard time telling the difference. It doesn’t matter that when you finally get up to that mountain and find them you will find out these berries come in a multitude of different sizes, colors and flavors (explained below). Get this in your head now rookie! If it is found on the mountain it is a Huckleberry. If you can pick it at a farm or buy it at the store, THAT is a blueberry. Okay. We saved you some grief.
The next way to get an Idahoan riled up is by asking them where they pick their berries. Jeeze! If the icy stare isn’t enough to scare you away and you are silly enough to persist…. well I wish you the best. I doesn’t matter if the Idahoan found a 50 acre patch with more berries than they could eat in a lifetime! They will put a ribbon on a tree branch, punch it into their GPS, and make whoever happened to be with them swear an oath of secrecy. This isn’t a game folks, it’s Huckleberries!
The actual berry is quite interesting. The flavor ranges from a real smokey flavor, to really sweet, to tart. They range in colors from black, red, purple, and…….. blue (THEY ARE NOT BLUEBERRIES!). Sizes go from tiny to grape size.
Bushes will be real short to the ground to higher than you knee….. well my knee, I don’t know how tall you are. They will range from bright green leaves to autum colors depending on their life cycle.
Early in the season (late June/early July) they will be found at low altitude. They will ripen later and later the higher you go.
So! We covered how to offend the Idahoan and what we are looking for when you go out. (For crying outloud TRY to have local-ish plates when you go out. Rent a car, borrow a friends, hitch hike… walk.) Now let’s cover the positives.
From my extensive (not really) research into the subject, if you want to win some favor points with an Idahoan, present them with Huckleberries. You could give them an old milk jug with leaves, stems, bugs and dirt. It will be as if you were giving them a long lost friend. They will smile, thank you, pretend they couldn’t accept them. Then they will tell you what they plan to do with them, just to put you at ease that those precious little gems won’t go to waste. Imagine the points you get if you minimally process/clean them or make them into a pie or other dessert. This is multiplied if you have heard the Idahoan complain about not being able to get up in the mountains to pick because of some reason or another. I believe if the Hatfield or McCoy families would have given the other side a Huckleberry pie all would have been forgiven.
So, my prospect Idahoan, get some good shoes on, get a recepticle of some sort, start driving mountain roads and look for those elusive (not really at all) Huckleberries!
Remember, when people ask if you went Huckleberry hunting, where you went and how much you got. The answers are Yes, in the mountains, and I did not get enough for you.
With these tips you are on your way to being a true Idahoan.