Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee

I’m not sure why I first started picking strawberries every year; now it’s a tradition that I don’t want to do without.  The strawberry picking window is pretty small – usually a couple of weeks in mid-June.  This year the weather has been perfect and berries are right on schedule.


Strawberry picking day starts out early; we always try to get to the fields by 6:30 a.m.  Once the sun comes up, pickers descend on the fields… sometimes the fields can be picked out by 10 a.m.  And the early morning is cooler for picking.  Young Adult and I pick in rows next to each other – she is not a dedicated picker, but understands the concept of “as soon as the boxes are full we go home”.  Of course, an integral part of strawberry picking is strawberry tasting.  The berries were sweet and juicy this year.


Once home it’s time to process all the berries.  This year we did 14 jars of freezer jam and froze about 16 pounds of smoothies over the winter.  And it was a strawberry orgy for three days straight: strawberry cake, strawberry peach pie and lots of bowls of fresh berries with whipped cream.   My mother was not a canner; I am entirely self-taught and I really enjoy it.  So when I found this poem by Joyce Sutphen, it didn’t remind me of my mother, but maybe someday it will remind the Young Adult of me.


It’s what she does and what her mother did.

It’s what I’d do if I were anything

like her mother’s mother – or if the times

demanded that I work in my garden,

planting rows of beans and carrots, weeding

the pickles and potatoes, picking worms

off the cabbages.

Today she’s canning

tomatoes, which means there are baskets

of red Jubilees waiting on the porch

and she’s been in the cellar looking for jars…

There’s a box of lids and a heal of golf

rings on the counter.  She gets the spices

out; she revs the engine of the old stove.

Now I declare her Master of Preserves!

I say that if there were degrees in canning

she would be summa cum laude—God knows

she’s spent as many hours at the sink peeling

the skins off hot tomatoes as I have

bent over a difficult text.  I see

her at the window, filling up the jar,

packing a glass suitcase for the winter.

Joyce Sutphen

(from First Words: Poems, by Joyce Sutphen, Red Dragonfly Press, 2010)

Do you have a seasonal tradition?

76 thoughts on “Strawberries!”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Great poem selection, VS. I love this poem. It makes me imagine both mom and grandma canning those tomatoes. Thank you.

    I think my seasonal activities are actually rituals at this late date: canning tomatoes and tomato soup, making jam.

    The garden ritual each spring is big. I love the day that Lou gets the rototiller and tills up the garden in the back yard–it is my tiny version of the Stan Roger’s song, “Field Behind the Plow.” The smell of that fresh dirt is lovely.

    Then there is “hanging the sheets on the line to dry” season. The first sunny, mild spring day calls me out to the clothes line with wet sheets and clothes pins. Fresh rhubarb season follows about a month after the sheets. I usually boil a batch of rhubarb sauce which I take to my mother. Then she tells me about being a child, and her mother making rhubarb sauce each spring.

    Presently I am heavily into raspberry season. We restocked our bed 2 summers ago after our raspberries were infected with a weird virus. Maybe that will be my blog for next week…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Smary Pants__1) what you get if you fall on your rump into a row of strawberries. 2) a reply to ineffective humor meaning “average-intelligence pants”, 3) What Smary does during a hard run.

        Liked by 6 people

  2. Outdoor Shakespeare season runs late June-early August. That is likely the one non-negotiable part of my “warm season.” Ice skating season (which I almost missed this year) runs roughly New Year’s to Valentine’s Day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Like Jacque, I really enjoy getting started outside in the spring: First load of laundry outside, sticking the potatoes in on Good Friday (I don’t know why I even question that- every year I have done that, I have potatoes, never lost them yet) and the first little custard cups of individual rhubarb crisp as soon as it can possibly be done.

    Another family gardening “rule” is to not pick the rhubarb after 4th of July, so I should probably get out there and get it while the getting is good.

    Red currants need picking, black are always a little behind.

    After a couple of years of not really taking care of the estate, I’ve lost the rhythm of my rituals, working on getting back into them.

    We do have some tomatoes set on!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good poem! Ex-hippie friend has a poem, similar but different, titled “Spotting UFOs While Canning Tomatoes.” It won a poetry award. She taught me how to can tomatoes, and last year I did it all by myself for the first time. Since I haven’t gotten botulism yet, I think it was a success.

    Besides the newly-annual tomato canning, the State Fair is our most prominent seasonal tradition. My roommate fell in love with the State Fair when she moved to Minnesota, and even when we miss the May Day Parade and decide once again to skip the Renaissance Festival, we manage to fit the State Fair in somehow. A sub-tradition is for her to eat lefse, because the Fair is where she had it for the first time. She is convinced lefse is a summer food, not having grown up eating it on Thanksgiving and Christmas like the gods intended.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love your friend’s poem… especially these two lines:
      when I was young and poor but had plenty of tomatoes
      she put my tomato destiny in my own hands
      I think: UFOs, Flying Saucers,
      aliens, green monsters
      tentacled sentient creatures who need women to:
      can tomatoes?
      The heck with them. Let them can their own tomatoes.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Yes to the Fair. Have not missed it once since becoming a Minnesotan in my our right.

      So help me, I will can tomatoes this year. Grew up eating tomatoes in glass jars although was never really part of the canning. I have the jars. I will do it.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. My daughter said her husband who’s been here from kosovo for two years commented the other day on how much he was looking forward to the state fair coming up
      she said it’s June the state fair isn’t until August but he’s fired up

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Summer is art fair season to me. There’s one almost every weekend, somewhere, into September. I like looking at the many ways people are creative. Jewelry, pottery, watercolors, metal sculpture, wooden bowls, toys, furniture, all kinds of things.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Linda reminds me…the county fair where I am secretary for the goat show and volunteer at the (semi-historical) log cabin exhibit. The 1890s cabin includes cooking and baking on a wood stove and listening to folks talk about how it was when they were young or their grandparents’ homes. One of the pleasures is watching the interest and enthusiasm some kids and teens have for the life style. Last year one young girl — four years old, maybe — who was so delighted with the cabin and the costumes, she didn’t want to leave but came back several times. We gave her a bonnet to wear around the fair.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. One of the volunteers makes her family breakfast every morning, either pancakes or cornbread on or in the wood stove. I bake bread, sometimes make cheese or lunch. And if the weather turns on us, we get lots of guests huddled around the stove. And if it is evening, we have kerosene lamps glowing. It is such fun. Come visit! August 13-16.


  7. Good morning. My favorite seasonal activity is cleaning seeds which I do while watching TV during the winter. Seed pods are collected from the garden when they are mature and hung to dry in paper bags from the rafters in in the basement. I enjoy shelling out the seeds by hand on winter evenings sitting in my TV watching chair.

    My favorite seasonal crop is asparagus. We had a fairly large asparagus bed when we lived in Southern Minnesota which supplied us with some good eating early in the year when other crops are not ready to eat. I am working on establishing an asparagus bed at oru new home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am funny about asparagus. I’m really not that crazy about it, but have to have one bunch each year as an homage to Spring.

      That one bunch tastes good, but it is also sufficient.


    2. My daughter said her husband who’s been here from kosovo for two years commented the other day on how much he was looking forward to the state fair coming up
      she said it’s June the state fair isn’t until August but he’s fired up


  8. Morning–
    Can I just play the farmer card here and say most of my life seems to be seasonal? Stan Roger’s, “Field Behind the Plow.” is a powerful song. Except I’m in a tractor with a cab nowdays… and I don’t *have* to do the nose snot thing so much.
    Oh, but the smell of fresh dirt.

    I picked a lot of strawberries as a kid as my Grandfather had a large garden.
    We have a local place, ‘’ just a few miles from the farm and I am more than happy to pay Dean or Tonya or one of their little kids to pick berries for me. And their berries are SO GOOD!
    We have 2 quarts in the fridge yet…the last of them this year. And will top and freeze I think. We just love to eat them plain.

    There’s the tradition of getting the sleeveless shirts out as the weather warms. There’s the tradition of seeing the barn swallows return. There’s the traditional ‘putting up the snow fence’ and the township spring ‘road inspection’ tour and ‘riding in big trucks’ for applying chloride (dust control).

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Thanks for the Sutphen poem. I just learned she is from MN poet.

    One of my favorites is her “Living In the Body.” It starts:

    Body is something you need in order to stay
    on this planet and you only get one.
    And no matter which one you get, it will not
    be satisfactory. It will not be beautiful
    enough, it will not be fast enough, it will
    not keep on for days at a time, but will
    pull you down into a sleepy swamp and
    demand apples and coffee and chocolate cake.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Starting in early spring and running till late fall, Saturday morning shopping at the St. Paul Farmer’s Market is my favorite tradition. As the season takes hold, the offerings shift from bedding plants to green onions, asparagus, radishes, salad greens and new potatoes. From early June through the end of the season, the variety of the bounty is truly remarkable. With all of the Hmong growers we have, the offerings include greens and vegetables few of us had even heard of twenty-five years ago. Many of these are essential for authentic Southeast Asian cooking. There must be at least fifteen to twenty varieties of eggplant in different shapes and colors to sample, and greens – some of which don’t have an English name – are there for the more adventurous cooks to try. Everything from fresh bean sprouts to lemon grass, sundry hot peppers, bittermelon and kubuzi squash are there for folks to experiment with. Need I tell you that I love the St. Paul Farmer’s Market?

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Like Ben’s farmer lifestyle, the life I led was so seasonal that it is unimaginable that anyone’s life could be otherwise. My outdoor year usually began standing in waders in some grey steelhead river swollen with melt water, fishing for impossibly chrome-bright rainbow trout. It would transition to the delicate beauty of fly fishing for trout. Early summer was for fishing northwoods lakes for bass and pike. Later summer would see me in a tiny boat on the heaving bosom of Lake Michigan, trolling for Chinook salmon. Early fall was about stumbling through yellow-leafed doghair aspen thickets looking for timberdoodles and ruffed grouse. With the arrival of colder weather my attention turned to the bird of my life, the pheasant. In late fall I hiked windswept prairies while ragged Vs of Sandhill cranes beat their way south overhead.

    Each of those seasons was subdivided by its own seasons. Our trout fishing started with Hendrickson mayflies but soon transitioned to yellow mayflies called Sulphurs. In late June we’d fish at night for the thrilling Hexagenia hatch, a ludicrously large insect. In June we fished the June Bug hatch with flies we made from coffee beans. Starting in July we’d be on the water at 5 AM fishing the Trico hatch with flies no bigger than ants. Late summer was for whirling caddis flies and lovely blue-winged olives.

    It was all seasonal. Life is seasonal.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Many of my seasonal traditions have been mentioned above. Here’s a few more:
    – listening for the migrating white throated sparrows in April
    – opening the screen porch
    – re-noticing that once the tulips are gone, there is such a steady stream of treats that you don’t have time to mourn anything: lilacs, bridal wreath, lily of the valley, irises, lupines, mock orange, yellow loosestrife, poppies, daisies…
    and today the mulberries are ripe.
    – trying to outwit the groundhog that’s taking half the veg. garden
    – realizing I should have been weeding more often
    – repainting the metal lawn chairs
    – out of town guests the hottest week of August
    – juicing the apples
    – listening for the migrating white throated sparrows in October
    – closing the screen porch and turning on the “fire”place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love the white-throated sparrows, too. I would add the first gurgling songs of the red winged blackbirds, rose breasted grosbeaks. Ah, and the opening of the screen porch…sweet seasons, BIR. It’s been too many years since I was able to be home for the summer pleasures.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. And thanks for the poem, VS – I particularly like “packing a glass suitcase for the winter.”

    Off season: A friend has introduced me to the Holiday Bazaar at the Landmark Center in early December, which has become a lovely tradition.


  14. I am not a ritual-oriented person, but I do envy all the lovely rituals that VS has in her life. Since Lucas was in 1st grade, we would go to Deer Lake Orchard every fall right around my birthday (October 2). It’s a large apple orchard with a hay ride, pick-a-pumpkin patch, live music, food, etc., in a beautiful country setting outside of Buffalo.

    My latest ritual and addiction is Downton Abbey. I realize I’m late to the feast, but OMG what a wonderful show! My son’s girlfriend happened to mention that Maggie Smith was in it, so I knew I had to watch it. Luckily, she just happened to have seasons 1-3 on DVD in her car for me to borrow. So Jim, Lucas and I watch it together every night since Saturday and we’re at the end of Season 2 already. I swear, Maggie Smith gets the grandest costumes and the best, snarkiest lines delivered with a smile and arch expression. I’m loving it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have Steve to thank for my Downton Abbey binge watching. He lent me the first season on DVD and I figured I’d take a couple of weeks to get through them. My oh my – all the episodes in a weekend. I was dreaming the music! Since then I get the DVDs from the library (you all know I’m terrible at watching anything on tv on a schedule) and see a whole season on a few days.


  15. OT, We’ve been watching ‘Six Feet Under’. Into Season 3 and enjoying that.
    We picked that after watching ‘Dead Like Me’.

    ….not exactly Downton Abbey…


  16. i am the son of a north dakotan . the first seasonal exposure was to the bird hunting tradition. pheasants ducks and geese. my dads dad was a deer hunter and my dad said he was a successful deer hunter for about ten years in a row then he got one and that was the end of that. he couldnt handle the feeling of death involved in a deer so … i was raised as the bird hunters son.
    when my kids were little we would do a summer vacation every year. i had annual business trade shows in late july and mid august so i had to take vacation right after school ended and be back by about 4th of july . we often went to yellowstone where we became pros in the art of old faithful elk bison and bear appreciation.
    i also had children who did baseball football basetball and h=who now dont
    my life is void of seasonal traditions other than those i witness out the window.


  17. I am jealous of most of these rituals, not the TV shows. One of Sandy’s rituals is trips to the emergency room. Today she decided to vary the tradition and went by ambulance, not driven by me, and in the daytime, not the night.


    1. variation is nice but watch out what you wish for. is she alright? i know thats a relative term. i guess you realize how important health is as soon as you dont have it. i am sorry you guys get to deal with life through that filter. it is a credit to you that you are able to contribute so mch here on the trail with the challenges you deal with dealing with the issues you and sandy have to factor in. hope it turns out t be a good end of todas story for the two of you. relatively speaking.


      1. She goes for three different reasons. Today’s reason is the scary one. She recovers, passes all the tests. No explanation is ever found.


  18. I have seasonal baking traditions-especially at Christmas. Gardening in the spring, (although it really starts in the dead of winter when I get the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants going). We used to have a summer tradition of going to Suzuki Summer institute somewhere in Canada. I will make spiniach chees pie this weekend with our garden spinach, and that is a tradition of a few years. I heard once that you have to do somehting at least twice for it to become a tradition. We celebrate St. Nicholas Day in early December and have done so for many years.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Today is Canada Day, so we arehaving maple bbq baked beans and vegetarian poutine.

    Next year I will plan better and we will have french toast for breakfast and there will be a Labatts in the fridge.

    So glad of seasons and holidays that make meal planning more interesting.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. canada stealing our holidays is pretty funny. they have thanksgiving laround ours too.
    it reminds me of puerto rico where they by law celebrate everybodys religious and cultural holidays so they have 100+ government paid ho;idays. sounds like something greece would do and then ask the eu to come help cover the costs of doing the work that couldnt get finished with so little time to get it done


    1. tim, I know you’ve made this claim before – about Puerto Rico’s offical holidays – and this time I’m going to challenge you on it. According to Wikipedia this is false Where do you get your information? The web is routinely used to spread false information, but I’d love for this blog not to participate in that. Signed, Grumpy in St. Paul.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. when i was there in attendance for a trade show in june years ago the comment was made to me by my host who was an entrepreneur and resident, that between the buddhist muslim christian island black jewish and other ethnic groups there were 100 plus holidays. i didnt check it because it was pre world wide web.
        if you want me to start speaking only true facts according to wikipedia i will begin with the following


        1. tim, considering the financial trouble that Puerto Rico is currently in, I just don’t think it’s prudent to be spreading Donald Trump-like stereotypical “facts” about any Latin people. Call me a stick in the mud, but I have no desire to crimp your style. Consider me out of here.


  21. Kind of on topic. The first two raspberries came off my canes this afternoon (thank you Linda!!!). Of course, carrying 2 raspberries into the house is just silly, so I had to pop them right into my mouth! But it does look like I’ll actually have enough to get some of them into the house this year!

    Liked by 8 people

  22. Just thought of another seasonal tradition! The presidential election season is rolling around. There are Republican candidates announcing weekly now. Maybe I will throw my hat in the ring too. After all, everybody’s doin’ it.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. i guess i do love the seasonal changes. i spent a year in southern california and it just wasnt right. i love birkies and hawaiaan shirts in july and cashmere coats and boots in the winter
    wool in september for my sports coat and silk or linen in april. staw hats give way to felt make room for heavy weight fedora in december
    holidays tend to be tied to something that forms a tradition for most that stands for something and form me in spite of the fact that the basis is not one of my x’s on the calendar.
    maybe with the new smart stuff in our lives i will be able to keep the proper things in mind at the right time.
    today is dan kauls birhtday. july 1, it always has been and ive know dan for 45 years but i didnt know his birhtday until facebook reminded me. irving r feldmans birthday frm one thousand clowns is one i have to plug in myself. my wedding anniversary from my first wedding, my dad and my grandparents death day, my anniversary of sobriety (12 13 14 is almost cheating isnt it) sue beeses birhtday ( the one that got away_) ansel adams, jackson plooack franz kline, pablo picasso alberto giocammetti, george gershwin, eric satie, bob dylan robert johnson george de mestral jimmy stewart and mary steenburgen
    kurt vonnegut ee cummings, antoine de saint-exupéry, mark twain, aa milne bill shakespear, gb shaw. i think i could spent a lifetime celebrating lifetimes and moments that have an impact. jesus was good so was mlk i was sad to hear ghandi was a jerk, but i tend to ct reputation a little slack. i doubt i would hold up if a list of my hiccups were posted alongside my achievements.
    but this was about traditions wasnt it.
    ah the therapy this blog does provide from time to time
    its a tradition that is beyond seasons. it is there when i need it most. you never when now is gonna hit, and then it does and you need to have your traditions all in place.
    thanks to you all

    Liked by 1 person

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