Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 3: Strawberries

After several months of eating those pale, oversized strawberries "from away," I was in raptures this morning over my first taste of the first summer strawberries from Beth's Farmstand in Warren. Nothing beats a sun-ripened, locally grown berry eaten right from the box--a true mouthful of ambrosia. I was immediately carried back to my childhood, when it was considered a privilege to be allowed to pick the strawberries in my grandmother's carefully tended patch. And of course my sister and I ate our fill while doing so. If I close my eyes, I can feel the heat on the pine needles spread on the berry beds, hear the sharp chipping of the chipmunk waiting for its share, and taste that sweet, perfectly ripe berry on the tip of my tongue. (My sister turns 40 today, so the memory broadens to include the long summer days we spent playing on our grandparents' saltwater farm so long ago...)

Some native Americans referred to the full moon in June as the Strawberry Moon. I can only imagine how amazing those tiny wild strawberries must have tasted to them after months without fresh fruit. They're only the size of a fingernail, but those berries pack a lot of flavor.

Once on a birding field trip in the boreal forest of Downeast Maine, we were walking along a dirt road looking for black-backed woodpeckers among the spruce trees, and I paused to pick a few wild strawberries. Who can resist? The trip leader snapped at me, "Leave those for the birds!" I could only laugh, feeling pretty certain that if the birds were that hungry, they'd have beaten me to those two or three little berries before I was even awake that morning.

A friend told me today that his berries are starting to ripen, early for his garden. He said his first berry was ripe on May 31, the earliest he'd ever eaten a home-grown strawberry. He's already daydreaming about the first strawberry shortcake of summer.

Still warm from the sun,
ripe strawberry disappears
into the child's mouth.

No comments:

Post a Comment