This morning we picked strawberries, my grandson and I, hats pulled down over our eyes to block the sun and loose shirts flapping in the breeze.
Summer is strawberry time, even if times are different these days. It took us less than half an hour to fill our pails with plump red berries, picking through the green ones in search of ripe ones. “We need more heat,” I told my sister-in-law, owner of the Ol Mill Berrries where we were, at least that’s the magic ripener of berries that I remember from childhood.
In fact, one of my strongest memories of those days must be fifty years old, or nearly so, I guess, since in it I’m a young shepherdess herding my little brothers over the short grass prairie with jam tins hung by binder twine around our necks. The strawberries weren’t so easy to find in those days either, with random wild plants hiding in the grass instead of long, neat rows all carefully nurtured and hoed. No. My brothers and I, we raced across that prairie, eyes focused on the ground, looking for tiny red dots between the rainbow of wildflowers we took for granted.
“Found some,” I’d shout, bossily claiming at least half of the patch for myself — forgetting that meant I’d be doing the most picking. But it didn’t really matter, because we always shared up the berries in our pails before we got home anyway, to make sure we all had something to contribute.
And then there was the whipped cream to spread on top for dinner’s dessert, made with fresh cream Mom had milked in the morning and put through the separator. While there’s no cow in my backyard now, my grandson and I still had those gigantic berries covered with whipped cream for lunch.
“This sure tastes good, Grandma,” he said, a creamy white moustache over his lips.
“It sure does,” I answered, seeing my little brothers’ strawberry stained cheeks and lips in his smile.