Thanks to the WordPress daily writing prompt (The Daily Post at WordPress.com) I found out more than I ever imagined about huckleberries. Today’s prompt was to pick a word, any word, perhaps the first word that comes to your mind. After picking said word, you were to go to Google Images, then pick the eleventh image and write about that it brought to mind.

First of all, I read today’s writing prompt at some point during the workday when I was checking my email. I intrigued me, but I barely have enough time to read my emails until I get home, so I had a bit of time on the drive home to think about what word I should go with. Should I just think if a random word? Open a favorite book and poke my finger in the middle of a page? Go to dictionary.com and hit a random scroll to find an odd word? What if it was some ordinary word like “it”, “and” or “the”? So many questions can roll around in your head when you have an hour drive home.

During my drive I listen to Opie and Anthony on Sirius radio. Often raw and always uncensored, today’s show was a bit different. Opie was there with his crew, but Anthony and comedian Jim Norton couldn’t make it due to Hurricane Sandy. It was an interesting, different show. The other change was no commercials. (Just a personal note, why do I pay so much a month for satellite radio and have to listen to commercials too???) Opie ran a game during what would have been the commercial break. He played the first two songs tweeted to him. They ended up being Moon River by Andy Williams and then some wild thunder and lightning song played back to back just because he could. It was fun and while I was listening to Moon River I never realized part of the lyrics call it a huckleberry friend.

Oh boy, I soooo had my word to look up. I mused about it until after dinner. If you are of my generation, huckleberry probably brings to mind a blue hound dog. Good ol’ Huckleberry Hound Dog was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. He had the best slow southern drawl and crazy sidekicks I smile just thinking about him.

Maybe a generation before me or someone much more active than I am would think of the actual huckleberries and huckleberry bushes. The picture I clicked on was from a website called Return to Hiker’s Notebook Home Page (http://www.sierrapotomac.org/W_Needham/Huckleberry_060724.htm)

The Hiker’s Handbook told me more than I’d every needed to know about huckleberries so I am going to share some of that info with you.

First of all, the name is derived from a similar berry know as a hurtleberry or whortleberry. Apparently it is thought that the name was in reference to the dark, bruised color making it appear to “hurt”. Often mistaken for blueberries, there are over 40 different species of huckleberries in the United States. Who knew???

The most interesting think I found out was the huckleberry has 10 seeds that are large enough to be seen and blueberries have as many as 65 seeds that are so small you can’t see them. But they are big enough to get stuck in your teeth when you eat them. (My words, not the Hiker’s).

Huckleberries were often associate to anything that is “insignificant and humble in nature” due to the small size of the plant they are grown on. Mark Twain chose them to name his famous character after, and explained why in an interview in 1895. Per our Hiker’s website, “…he chose the name for the character as a contrast to Tom Sawyer, to express that he was to be of “lower extraction or degree.” “Maybe because of Twain’s character, “huckleberry came to be associated with a close friend as a sign of affection as in “I’m your huckleberry.” I don’t know how old you’d have to be to know this. Maybe a great-grandma or grandpa. I do know I am going to use that the first chance I get. I can’t wait to call someone my huckleberry!!

 Instead of going on and on, I am going to give you some quick huckleberry facts:

  • The western black huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho
  • Indians of the Columbia Plateau had a big bash every July when the first huckleberries were harvested.
  • They were an important food source for the western Indian tribes.
  • Nez Perce made a purple dye from them
  •  Eastern huckleberries, the box huckleberry, are considered some of the oldest living organism
  • One colony in Pennsylvania is estimated to be 13,000 years old (dicey confirmation if you ask me, but I am just sayin’)
  • Box huckleberries have pink flowers and light blue fruit
  • Black huckleberries have red flowers and black fruit
  • I have never eaten a huckleberry to the best of my knowledge
  • I am going to look for a huckleberry bush to plant next spring

Wow, who knew half of this stuff about huckleberries other than hikers? This was a fun writing prompt. In fact, so much fun I am going to do this every day for a week. Hopefully I’ll entertain and enlighten someone besides myself.

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