On most trees, the inner and outer barks grow in the same direction: vertically. On a few trees (birches, cherries, and wild plums, for example), the outer bark grows horizontally around the tree, the same direction as if you went to give a tree a hug. This trait gives the bark an unusually high resistance to splitting as it dries, making cherry and plum branches fairly strong.
This bit of knowledge was (and is) known by the various Native American tribes that live(d) in tipis: the slender branches that serve to stitch the tipi front closed are generally cherry or plum.
Now picture walking through a landscape with a head full of this kind of knowledge; the world becomes inhabited by usefulness, nutrition, tastiness. This shifting of vision is part of the appeal of learning about wild foods.
I don’t ever have to make aronia candy myself, but knowing that it can be done, that I’ve had it and it’s good, I see the aronia berries differently. The streets around my neighborhood and the paths I like to hike just outside of town are becoming a clutter of mental bookmarks- the grape vines are south of the duck pond, the elderberries are along the mulberry path where the lightening struck.
Maybe I will make aronia jam this fall, right after I experiment with white oak acorn flour.