School is out for the summer. The best first day of summer is often the one without too much planned. The school year, by definition, can feel like “all go”, so my greatest wish for the first day of the school break is usually getting to sleep-in. Which we did.
My youngest and I had planned to go strawberry picking, so after a slow start to the day (he had his good friend from “across the valley” over for a couple of hours to play, and I had a bit of work to do) we headed out to a nearby berry farm. Would love to say it was our own place, but we have raspberries here, not strawberries (and man, do they ever need attention, but that’s another story!).
It turned out to be the perfect day for berry picking; warm and sunny, but with a gentle cooling breeze. Many a year we’ve gone picking and baked – no, make that fried – in the sun, but this year I felt like I was in some wonderfully sun-drenched Italian film. It was true berry bliss. At my son’s urging we picked nearly four huge basketsful, which I didn’t think we’d be able to do but happily agreed to. When we were nearly there he suddenly said “Okay, let’s go” and I was in the kind of mood where that was just fine by me.
Arriving back home with the berries in tow, it occurred to me that we’d have to deal with all of these berries. I knew that, intellectually, when we were picking them, but it’s a different thing once you get down the business of sorting, washing and hulling the suckers. I had the help of both boys for a while, and then my older son had to take off to deliver fliers for a local church program (he seems to have found a good source of odd jobs this summer, for which I’m grateful – he’s so responsible and ready to work, and at 13 he needs to be busier) and the youngest decided that he’d had enough for a while.
In the end I made a batch of freezer jam (not sure how successful this was as I really wasn’t paying too close attention during this phase of operations…I may have ended up with a lot of frozen strawberry puree, which won’t be the end of the world), a strawberry cake with lemon drizzle icing, strawberry puree to pour on said cake, and also froze some berries for smoothies. And I still haven’t dealt with all the berries…but this is what it means to deal with the short-lived bounty of locally grown food, and I’ll take this kind of burden any day (just not every day, please!).
Our own garden is coming into its own and it looks like this will be the year of tomatoes-kale-beans-and-lettuce (as well as beets, cucumber and carrots, if we’re lucky). I’ll be happy with that. Some of our tomatoes have begun fruiting, which makes me giddy, and most everything except for the tomatoes is protected by wire cages to keep the damn deer and other critters away. I’m feeling pleasantly surprised at how well things are looking overall, but won’t count my chickens, er tomatoes, till they hatch. Oh, you know what I mean.
I must take some pictures and post them here, but as it’s 11pm and very dark out, I’ll wait for another day. I must also document the might-have-beens and outright failures, but I’m too tired for that right now. All in good time.
Off to eat a few berries before bedtime.