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.
(from First Words: Poems, by Joyce Sutphen, Red Dragonfly Press, 2010)
Do you have a seasonal tradition?