Fourteen years harvesting chokecherries has brought more than one thousand jars of jelly, jam and syrup to the table so far. It's practically a staple food for me now and I expect I'll continue harvesting, cooking and eating the delicious wild fruit until I keel over dead somewhere out here, very possibly while gathering berries.
And now that my mind is no longer in a constant churn thinking of work items in the queue to be completed for clients, I'm noticing this property has a lot more chokecherry patches than I was aware of, most of the best hiding amongst gambel oak thicket. Last fall, I gathered enough from known and newly discovered patches to make more than one hundred jars of jelly and jam, and several quarts of syrup. It's fun seeking them out after the oaks leaf up, always careful not to allow myself to disturb a bear feeding on them before approaching a patch.
Last fall a scrappy bear I called Notch frequently fed from patches around the house. Totally okay by me. He can eat all he wants. I'll gladly settle for any left after his kind are finished.
Unless a late freeze in June or summer hail storms knock the berries off after they appear on the bush, this could be a bumper crop year for chokecherries. In about four months I'll know for sure when we begin playing hide and seek among the oaks for the fifteenth year in a row.