Autumn is perhaps the most wonderful time to be in the mountains, especially the North Cascades. Many of the sub-alpine hillsides (between 5,000 and 7,000 feet or so) are covered in berry bushes, and around mid- to late-September the berries ripen into heavenly little treats. These are Cascade Bilberries. They have one of the more appropriate Latin names I’ve come across: Vaccinium deliciosum. Indeed, they truly are delicious, like a superbly intense blueberry with a distinct banana tang – maybe it’s the altitude spice that comes from growing at higher than 5,000 feet. Together with the berries ripening, the leaves begin to turn red, and in the right light it’s as if the hillsides are covered in sparkling rubies.
Floris van Breugel is a part-time nature photographer and full-time PhD student at Caltech and University of Washington studying the neurobiology of behavior in fruit flies. In both careers, he strives to marry art and science to give rise to creative visions. Visit his website