Picking Strawberries: A Tale of Youth
Just down the road from my childhood home is a strawberry farm. Come end of May, beginning of June, Farmer Bruce will walk down a well worn dirt path and place a bright white sign near the road advertising the beginning of strawberry picking season in cheery pink-red printing: Smith's Berry Farm.
As soon as that sign appeared, my mom would go about plotting, for it was a difficult task to wake all us kids in the wee hours of the morning and convince us to get dressed and agree to spend several hours in the hot sun during our summer vacation. Yet there we were. Every summer. Like clockwork.
We'd arrive at the farm early in shorts and dirty tennis shoes, bandanas holding hair back and protecting our faces from the sun simultaneously. The oldest, I was allowed to be keeper of a row of strawberries of my own, moving the stake from where I started picking to where I stopped, a younger brother sharing in the task with me.
Armed with buckets and baskets of all sizes, we'd hover over tiny green plants, stopping to pop a few in our mouths whatever chance we got, just as Farmer Bruce instructed us to. "I want to see strawberry-stained mouths when I see you next," he demanded as he gave picking instructions and assigned us rows. We didn't want to disappoint.
When our buckets were too heavy to carry, we'd dump them into a flat, and when we had two flats full of those shiny berries, we'd head home to make jam and coffee cake and all different kinds of fabulous treats with the bounty we worked for all morning.
Still, when I dream of the berries of my youth, it's the strawberries in the sunshine picked directly off the vine that sit present in my mind, and as I pack up four kids and head to the farm this summer, I can only wish the memories we're creating will mean as much to them looking back on them 20 years from now, that their experiences will have dotted their life and imprinted themselves on their hearts.
April 27th is "Tell a Story Day." What story of your childhood sticks with you today?