Photo courtesy of condesign on Pixabay.
One of my favorite memories from our lives in Florida is from when the kids were small — our daughter was maybe 3 years-old and our son 5 — and we went strawberry picking. The berries glistened like red candy against emerald leaves in row upon row of raised mounds.
The kids ate as many as they dropped in their buckets. Maybe more. We have a photograph of our daughter, chubby cheeks stained red with berries. She wore a pink baseball cap to protect her from the subtropical sun, and in the picture she grins, with warm strawberry juice dribbling down her chin. The front of her white shirt is a bib of berry drippings.
When we returned home, sweaty, with our breath smelling of sweet strawberries, we washed the berries that managed to escape the children’s mouths and spread them to dry on cookie sheets. I remember the volume of take-home berries seemed small compared to the amount of time we spent picking in the hot sun. I had envisioned strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, chocolate covered strawberries, strawberries on pancakes and waffles. Our stash didn’t look like it would fulfill all of those dreams.
It turns out it did. We made all those dreams come true. The thing I liked best, after the berries were rinsed and patted dry, was the strawberry jam. There’s something very earthy and pioneering about canning fruits and vegetables you picked yourself. Even though jam is filled with loads of sugar, and is really not good for you, something about transforming those fresh red berries into ruby jam in glass jars is wholesome and beautiful.
Each time we spread the red preserves on homemade bread, or biscuits, or crepes, I remembered that day in the fresh air, our kids happy in the sun, smiling, and dripping with berry juice.
This is a ten-minute free write prompted by the word “Strawberries.” I pulled the prompt from my prompt box, set the timer for 10 minutes, and wrote until the timer stopped.