I'm out of the office this week but I wanted to share this post from the archives with you. Yum!
Have you noticed that the fruit and vegetables of summer seem super-packed with color and flavor? They seem to hold all the goodness of the season inside.
For me, strawberries are the quintessential summer essential.
Several years ago, I went strawberry picking for the first time at a farm near my parents’ house. I was excited about it, not just for the spoils but for the experience with my daughter, who was eight at the time, and my parents.
So I slathered us up with sunscreen, and off we went with Mom and Dad.
It was a hot, clear morning—the usual in mid-June. At the farm, we parked by a big white shed and went inside to pick up two big white buckets. Out in the field, rows and rows of green, low-lying plants stretched ahead of us. We chose an area and got started.
Those first few berries, hidden under the leaves, surprised me: they were small, red, and cone-shaped. Perfect. Not the huge, mutant-looking things we usually find at the grocery store. I couldn’t wait to have one of these beauties—or a dozen.
Our conversation skipped back and forth over the rows, and so did my daughter. She helped me for a while and then Nana and Papa. If our conversation lagged, she filled it in with talk of summer, her friends, our upcoming vacation--whatever came to mind.
Very quickly, we got hot. The sun beating down on us mixed the sunscreen with sweat, and my sunglasses slid down my nose.
So I wasn’t surprised when she asked, “How much longer, Mom?”
“A few more minutes,” I said. “We want to fill the buckets. Keep picking.”
She sighed. She talked about how hot she was and swatted a bug. And sighed again. Loudly.
I had to laugh. She reminded me of myself at her age. Whenever we visited my grandparents to help in their garden, I couldn’t wait to either go inside or go home.
But I loved the sight of those strawberries—first, their redness against the green plants, then against the white bucket. And the smell! The heat released their sweet fragrance.
Before long, the buckets were overflowing. When we walked to the shed to pay for them, we passed a long bench lined with kids stuffing berries into red-stained mouths. Back at my parents’ (blessedly cool) house, we stuffed our own mouths until we’d had our fill, with plenty left over.
A little bit of labor that morning yielded a lot of goodness and made me grateful for the beauty, variety, and provision of creation. And for summer, too.
What is your favorite summer fruit or food? Have you ever picked fresh produce on a farm or in a garden? I'd love to hear about your experience.
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