Rubus chamaemorus, or more popularly called cloudberry, is something I love but until a week ago, I had never seen it in the wild. It is a funny little berry. It grows in the arctic tundra in marshland, every plant produces one berry that has the shape of a raspberry, is red when unripe and then golden when ripe. And it is delicious.
You can buy cloudberry jam and frozen cloudberries in the grocery store here in Sweden. You do not have to go out there and face wild deep marshes, get water in your boots, get a thousand mosquito bites, all for a few lousy berries. At least, that's what I thought you had to do. I have been in the Swedish mountains before but I had never seen any cloudberries anywhere. This made me feel that they only grew in highly inaccessible places, which confirmed my earlier idea about what needed to be faced in order to get to them.
But last week everything changed! Boyfriend and I were hiking on a trail leading into the mountains. We passed the tree barrier, and the landscape is just amazing there. Swedish mountains are soft and shaped by the glaciers of the last ice age (see photo, doesn't it look amazing?).
There are actually trees there but they aren't higher than a few inches above the ground. And while the piece of trail I'm standing on in the photo looks pretty dry it can be the complete opposite: the trail going straight through wetlands, marshes and streams.
So we were following our trail, sometimes wet and sometimes dry and I always make sure I look a lot towards the ground, mostly because I want to see where I'm walking, but also because I'm a biologist and plants and flowers interest me.
We are crossing a stretch of peaty marsh, with a lot of moss and not as much grass as in some other wet places. And then I see it. Something orange-y yellow, out of the corner of my eye. And I shout at Boyfriend: 'Hjortron!' which is Swedish for cloudberry (pronunciation yoortronn).
There they were! I couldn't believe it! It was sunny and warm. It was wet on the ground, but not boot-sinking-away wet. There were No Mosquitoes. They were very pickable; no impossible obstacles that needed to be conquered.
I took my silicone mold making stuff out of my backpack (a real metal clayer never goes anywhere without his or her mold making tools) and I picked the nicest little cloudberry leaf I could find and made a mold out of it with a random flat rock for support.
I carried the mold on the stone in my hand until I was sure it was firm and then it lived in a compartment of my backpack until I was back home in Stockholm. And this is what I made with it a few days ago:
A cloudberry ring in sterling silver with a leaf made with metal clay from my mold, and a rose cut carnelian as a cloudberry. I'm very happy with it and now you may understand why! :)
The ring will be available in my Etsy shop and can be made in different sizes.