The Woods in Late Summer: Part II

Signs of fall weren’t the only things I found on my late-summer walks. I also found Indian pipe growing in several spots. I think of it as being relatively rare, so it was a pleasant surprise to find so much of it.

Indian pipe

Indian pipe

And I discovered this pink beauty.

Pinesap

Pinesap

At first I thought it must be pink Indian pipe, though I had never heard of such a thing. I looked it up when I got home, and now I know it to be pinesap, a cousin of Indian pipe. The way to tell the difference between the two plants is the number of flowers per stem. Indian pipe always has one. Pinesap usually has multiples.

I also discovered a new type of shrub. I think it’s probably spicebush. I only noticed it because of its pretty berries. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Spicebush

Spicebush

But my mission during these summer hikes was to find evidence that the shrubs in the woods are blueberries. I knew that it was too late to find fresh berries, but it’s not uncommon to find shriveled, uneaten berries here and there, even well after blueberry season. I figured that those old berries would be my best bet for evidence.

Well, look at what I found near the overhang of the scenic overlook.

Blueberries!

Fresh blueberries! In September! Who could have imagined? This is the only bush I found with fresh berries (though there were some desiccated berries on other bushes, just as I had thought there would be). What a lucky find! Not only did these berries provide me with definitive evidence, but they were tasty, too. And I’m doubly glad that I ate some, because when I got home and told my husband about the blueberry bush, he said, “I bet they were poisonous.” That was his way of saying, “Who cares? You’re too paranoid to eat anything you find in the woods anyway.” Having eaten the berries, I could tell him how wrong he was. I’ve decided, you see, that if something looks like a blueberry to me, it’s a blueberry (or something similar enough, like a huckleberry or bilberry, to be equally edible). I like blueberries, so I’m going to eat some if I find them.

The summer is definitely not my favorite season for hiking, but I’d like to go blueberry picking in the woods someday. Our plan is to have permethrin-treated clothing and shoes for next year, because experts are predicting a horrific tick season. Properly dressed, I might be willing to brave the woods in the middle of the season.

Until next year, blueberries!

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