Monday, May 18, 2009

It's Strawberry Time!

Is there anything as sweet as a fat red juicy luscious strawberry?

Yes, there is ; there are tiny wild strawberries growing in secret places all about the world. When we were kids the places didn't have to be kept as secret because there were hillsides or fields near almost anyone's home if they lived in a small town. Now those hillsides are covered with houses and the fields are covered with pavement. So if you know of a spot, only your closest family and friends are likely to be let in on the location.

When we lived in the Willow Street house in Adams we could climb up to the Pinnacle and bring back a small pail full of berries for our cereal. That was the same hill where we went sledding during the winter, never suspecting the hidden treasure beneath the snow.

When we got home from school Mom sent us for more and she made shortcake for dessert; real biscuits, the berries, and Poor Man's Cream. Poor Man's Cream was actually stiffly beaten and sweetened egg whites. In those days we didn't know raw egg whites could be dangerous . We only knew it was so yummy we'd fight over who got to lick the beaters.

We were camping on the West side of one of the Great Lakes (Dad will tell me which one) one time when I was about 13. I normally woke up very early with nature not just calling me but usually yelling quite insistently. Going to the bathroom was such a chore when we were sleeping in a tent. Wait as long as possible, then convince myself to get out of the warm sleeping bag, find my clothes, make sure there's nothing sleeping in my shoes, creep out of the tent as quietly as possible. (If I missed my footing or made a single sound, Scrabblebuff would wake up, at the last second, wailing because she had to go too.) Then running as fast as possible to the latrine.

Naturally, by the time all of that business was finished, I'd be wide awake and dawn was just about to put on a show over the lake. We had discovered a hillside covered with wild strawberries over looking the lake the day before so I grabbed my all purpose, Girl Scout issue soup pot and went to pick some for breakfast. When I'd picked about half a pot I heard someone calling to me. There in the mist rising from the lake I spied a canoe with two young men in it. I went to the shore to meet them and they paddled close to the shore but didn't get out. In thick French/Canadian accents, they asked if I had fraises in my pot.
Of course, I had no idea what that meant so I showed them my berries.

Well, what do you know? Fraises were strawberries! I offered them some and the older man handed me a cup to put them in. I gave them most of what I had and they were effusive in their thanks. I waved good bye and they paddled off. I filled up the pot again and wandered back to camp. Daddy had just gotten up to start the fire and the coffee. He told me to watch it while he took care of his morning "Walk".

Imagine my surprise when he came back a bit later with my two French canoeists who were carrying fresh fish for breakfast! Mom got up and made fried potatoes to go with the fish and we had fraises with milk and sugar together. Mom's French was rusty but useful. We discovered
they were a father and son and were spending the summer exploring the entire area by the inland waterways. They had been out for more than a month and had a month to go. It was a wonderful morning and one I always remember when I eat strawberries.

Encounters like that were part of what made me want to travel. Geezer and I still meet French Canadians along the way, especially in Arizona and occasionally we still get to share a meal and a story. If a canoe paddles by this week I even have strawberries.

See ya down the road, Yarntangler


spiritualastronomer said...

Great story. I made strawberry shortcake for myself last night, including actual shortcake and real whipped cream. However, I do miss strawberry season in Oregon, especially U-pick fields.

Geezerguy said...

Now you made me hungry again. Do we have any Strawberries left?