If you ask me my favorite fruit, I’d have to say strawberries. They taste so good, and strawberry memories? Yeah, I have a few.
Here I am back in 1966, not even 2 years old, looking clearly caught in the act by the camera as I reach for strawberries at the kitchen table with my dad (side note: eesh, those awful plastic pants make me grateful for modern disposable diapers!).
As I grew up, we had a huge strawberry patch. I don’t know how many plants, but they were in long, long rows. I spent so many hours picking those berries, slowly making my way down the rows as I worked on my tan while contemplating recent books I’d read, the meaning of life, or maybe just my current 4-H projects. I’d encounter a friendly garter snake or two as I picked quart after quart of berries. I usually alternated rows, picking half the patch each day during peak season. I filled so many of the berry baskets, stained with juices from hundreds of uses (hey, that rhymes!).
I’d sell them to neighbors and church friends, and “strawberry money” financed more than a few of my college classes. It was a great lesson in the value of hard work, a shining example of the American way (well, at least at that time). I also prepared berry after berry, making freezer jam, pies, and shortcakes.
Strawberries just taste like summer to me — delicious, fleeting, beautiful summer.
Last year, I planted 50 new plants in our (admittedly much smaller) patch. After the drought, it appears 6 have survived. And of the 40 I bought and planted 3 months ago (bare root style), only one is showing the smallest signs of green.
But that’s okay. Because with strawberries, you can always begin again. Where there’s work, there will — eventually — be rewards.
How about you? Any strawberry memories? Do you have a favorite fruit?