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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever...(or maybe just once a year for kicks!)


Is where the Strawberry Dictator lives while you pick berries and wait for orders.  She is no doubt part of some larger Strawberry Oligarch, however for two hours, she was my own scary, somewhat angry, strawberry field FIASCO...Dictator.

It sounds so idyllic to say..."oh my, let us go and pick strawberries, how delightful, we shall have shortcake" but let me tell you, the truth of the matter is that strawberry picking is NOT altogether delightful.

The entire task of picking fruit from 6 inch tall bushes, is hard work best done ON YOUR KNEES. It's not easy work, OH no. And do you know what? they call Strawberries Strawberries because they literally grow in the straw, the berries, they're bedded down like mice in your winter storage. Seriously, you are lifting strawberry leaf skirts and rifling through the straw searching for perfect berries and running into mushy, buggy ones.

The Dictator alternately read a book in her truck-berry-camper and stalked the rows, squinting at the squat berry bushes and insisting "you MUST pick the little berries, that's just about all that's left!" and ordering the girls, along with the veteran cowed workers, to double check their rows and carry along iron curtain poles, to plant wherever one leaves off picking. "Lift the plants up ladies! Don't Be Shy!" she shouted, waving her arms about before skedaddling back to read her romance novel.

So...as the work commenced (and it was a LOT of work, we picked 25 quarts) I tossed my tee-shirt in the straw and worked in my cami.  The sun baked my shoulders, the breeze started to feel really amazing and the smell of strawberries became literally intense. 

My daughter, and her friends crawled ahead of me down their berry lanes, springing up to run and show me the strangest shaped berries they could find..."Be careful where you walk honey, you don't want to step on any bushes" I loudly cautioned in a stern voice when the Berry Master peeked out to see what the excitement was all about. (I'm a respectful Berry Peon).

As I lifted leafy skirts, I popped a perfect berry or two or three in my mouth, carefully avoiding the gaze of the Berry Dictator. Then laughed as the girls did the same thing, smacking their lips and smiling seedy toothed smiles, and waving pink stained fingers at me.

As our baskets became full, the whole thing started to feel ideal, other than the whole back-breaking-labor-intensive factor...
and I started having these little flits of happy thoughts in my head, bits of songs like "Here Comes The Sun" and especially a piece from one of my favorite books...A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith... 
People always think that happiness is a faraway thing … something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up. 
Isn't that SO true? Even in a Berry Oligarchy?