I lived in Masset, British Columbia as a kid from the summer of 1991 through the early summer of 1995. The spring always came early there, and I remember my mom talking to my grandmother who was often jealous of how early things started to grow. It was always amazing to see everything in bloom, especially on the rare sunny day.
It wasn’t long into living there, maybe even that first summer, that I discovered salmonberries, also known as Rubus spectabilis. I don’t know if I asked my parents if I could eat them, or if I saw someone else doing it, but near our house were bushes upon bushes of the berries. They came in different colours, from a bright yellow through a dark orange. When fully ripe, they do look more than a little like Salmon roe.
I remember running through a dusty foot path along some small hills near our house and snatching up ripened berries. I would eat them one at a time before running to the next area and grabbing another. I remember my mom sending my brother and me out with large bowls to pick hundreds of them to bring back and be turned into jam. I remember taking one berry and trying to split it into all of the little orbs of juice and then eating them slowly, enjoying the sweet taste of summer on the Queen Charlotte Islands.
I know that I spent some time, especially as I got a little older thinking about how amazing it was to just be able to eat them, right off the plants, whenever they looked ripe. They weren’t something you could get from the grocery store, and I hadn’t considered that once we left Masset, I wouldn’t be able to get them again.
It was such a simple pleasure, and I hope I never forget the small hills near the library covered in bushes that were filled with salmonberries in the height of the summer. There are more than a few memories of my time growing up in Masset where salmonberries are the focus.