Wild strawberries and wild roses are the sweet smells of June

Karen Wils photo A handful of wild field strawberries.

ESCANABA — Wild strawberries and wild roses are the month of June’s sweetest Warm nights and romantic scents drift in the air.

Gentle pink and radiant red are the colors of this early summers dance. In the meadows and roadsides these wild delights ripen and bloom.

Wild strawberries and wild roses remind me of my younger days. The road and the railroad tracks between north Escanaba and Wells were a perfect habitat for wild roses and strawberries.

The old Bayshore area just east of our house was carpeted with strawberries on the gentle rolling hills all the way to the lake.

Wild roses thrived in that sandy soil too.

When I was a kid, I’d tag along with my aunt Sandy picking berries in the long grass, around the jack pines right on up to Little Bay de Noc.

The fragile wild roses grew on low bushes. The fragrance of these native flowers was an awesome perfume. Sharp little thorns made it quite difficult to pluck one of these blossoms. Trying so hard to avoid the thorns and the bees that were always buzzing in the roses, I’d manage to break off a few branches with blooms.

As careful as I was, by the time I hiked home just about every delicate pink petal fell off! The supple flowering wild roses thrived in the rocky and dry limestone ledges along the Escanaba River.

For a few days in June the rosebushes were beautiful and dotted with cheery pink flowers and then too quickly they were petals in the wind and gone.

Between the Bayshore area and our camp area, I was able several times to pick enough wild berries so that my mother could make wild strawberry jam.

Most often though the tiny strawberries picked from the open sand lots around town, were simply clean and mashed with a little sugar and served on toast or ice cream.

There are two varieties of native strawberries that live in Michigan. The first one, and the most popular one is the wild field type. These plants grow in sunny areas down low on the carpet of vegetation. They are the bigger “wild” berry, and they are rather fat and rounded.

The other wild strawberry is known as the woodland strawberry. It can be found in shady spots beneath the trees. Woodland strawberries are smaller, pointier and more cone shaped that the field type.

My sister Lori and I would spend my summer hours back in the day, picking wild woodland strawberries and watching our beagles run.

My daughter Ellen too loved the adventure of finding wild strawberries like mini treasures hidden on the camp trails.

Picking wild berries of any kind is either some you love to do or hate to do.

Many types of birds and wild animals seek out wild strawberries for a summer snack.

Hotter, drier summers and the loss of many wild, undeveloped areas have reduced the number of wild strawberry fields across the U.P.

But, if the nourishing rains come down and the sunshine smiles on the ground, in some little remote neck of your woods, wild strawberries will ripen. Go on a treasure hunt.

Just like a love story, the wild strawberries and the wild roses will put a sweet joy into your day.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.


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