To the jenth power ...

I read the books. I watched the show. I unflinchingly wore a sunbonnet to second grade. What started as a childhood obsession has developed into .. well, an adult obsession. I'm going to visit some of the sites depicted in the Little House series of books. Go west, (not-so-) young woman, indeed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jam Session

Well, I think it's safe to say that the last week's been a pisser. They say what doesn't kill you only makes you stranger, and I guess I'm living proof of that.

In the midst of the tragedies, my closest friends kidnapped me. They insisted last Friday afternoon that I join them for an expedition. I think they meant it as a sorry-about-your-cat-but-happy-birthday gesture. And what's a certian cure for both a broken heart and the fast approach of my dotage?

Why, strawberry picking. Of course.

Now, these friends know their way around a strawberry patch. They showed up with a car full of shallow baskets. As they unloaded a shocking number of rustic wicker containers from their vehicle, I clutched my plastic ice-cream bucket and tried to look blase. N explained that shallow containers are best, because the weight of the berries in a deeper bucket could bruise the fruit on the bottom. Never fear, said I, I only want to get a few. N dubiously eyed my plastic can and offered use of one of their more appropriate baskets. I declined, insisting that there was NO WAY I'd pick enough berries to warrant any other container.

The most amazing thing about a strawberry patch is the smell. It's unbelieveable. It's not the cloying miasma of berry odor you might imagine, but, rather, gentle wafts of strawberry scent. Granted, we were there on a breezy, cool day. I suppose that there could be a pigpen effect in more stifling conditions. But as I experienced it? Sheer awsomeness.

N explained that the easiest way to move down the rows of plants was to straddle them and bend over to rifle through the leaves and pick the berries. I tried, at first, to harvest in a ladylike manner - kneeling alongside each plant to carefully pluck the fruit. I soon realized that straddle-with-ass-in-air was the way to go, so I finshed my picking in a most dignified position.

I suppose that it goes without saying that I filled my little ice cream bucket to the brim. The thing is this, though - it didn't seem to be all that many berries when I was in the field. I'm not sure if it was the sheer expanse of the strawberry patch or the astounding amount of berries my friends gathered (they're jelly/jam makers), but I thought I had just enough for me. And then I went home. Where I realized what nine pounds of berries really means.

It means berries for lunch. For breakfast. For the neighbors. I was considering chasing random strangers down the street in order to unload my bounty when it occurred to me that I could freeze the things. So I did. I'm now the proud owner of a freezer full of strawberries.

It's kind of a neat feeling to know that I'll have those berries when it's no longer the season. In fact, I feel rather Ingalls-ish about the whole thing, enough so that I'm thinking of doing the same for blueberry season. I shared my satisfaction with N, the queen of canning and pantry-filling. She agreed. And let me know not to let my guard down ... who knows when the berry squad might just whisk me off once more ....

Days until trip: 16 (Yikes!)
Money saved: $325. (Yikes squared!)


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