After a four-day hiatus, we topped off bowl and after bowl after bowl — all from our own, albeit overgrown, bed. Over the past week or so, the two-tiered bed had produced enough to be sliced over several salads, sweetened for delicious desserts, and fill 10 freezer containers, a quart or two at a time.
The process was running so smoothly that I had crowed to my mother about how lovely it was not to be so overwhelmed by berries. Picking them at home instead of at a nearby farm meant I could slice and macerate them little by little — instead of 40 quarts-worth at once.
This way, my hands wouldn’t hurt from holding the knife; my feet wouldn’t stiffen from standing still; my fingernails wouldn’t be stained for days.
What a treat!
We were at an art fair last weekend, so the juicy, red treasures had gone untouched since Thursday evening. The deer deterrent I had sprayed worked wonders keeping away the squirrels, so the vines were loaded.
After the first bowl, my husband, Kevin, joined me. We’d carefully find berry-free spots for our feet, then sweep aside the lush, green leaves to uncover the ruby gems below. Some were as pretty as pictures — so much so that we had to show them off to each other.
“Look at this one,” Kevin exclaimed, holding up a prime specimen. “I never get ones this perfect!”
I have to admit some weren’t as sweet as they could be — I’ve made a notation in my garden book to make sure we water them sufficiently in mid-May. We can’t control the sun and heat, and it seems to take all three to make a big, sweet, juicy berry.
Even so, macerated in a little sugar, they’re so dripping with quintessential strawberryness, I can forgive them during this inaugural harvest.
All three varieties I selected were bred to produce well in home gardens in this climate — and so they have.
As we continued to pick, that distinctive uptick at the end of the word in Nina Simone’s deep, throaty voice served as the perfect soundtrack.