We’d watched their Facebook page for weeks, looking for the much-anticipated announcement.
“Usually in mid June,” they said.
June 14th passed.
Then the 15th.
“Soon!” a post promised.
We waited impatiently as a few more days passed.
Finally, on June 20th, the post we’d been waiting for arrived: “The fields are open!”
Yes! It was strawberry picking time.
Unfortunately, the soonest we could make it to the farm was two days later. Two whole days! I could just imagine everyone else picking away, harvesting the cream of the crop. The delay was agonizing! Over and over, I had to remind myself that more berries ripen every day, and I crossed my fingers that this year the crop was bountiful.
On the 22nd, we woke early in the morning and set off. After about ten minutes, we slowed and turned onto the bumpy dirt road. A plume of dust rose and fell in our wake and around us the fields rolled off into the distance. Already the parking lot was full of cars. We looked at each other uneasily: Would there be any berries left?
We parked, then read and followed the clearly posted new protocols. Directional arrows guided us to large tanks of water and soap. We washed our hands and then moved on to pick up cardboard containers. Suitably sanitized and equipped, we headed for the fields, careful to distance ourselves from other pickers.
As soon as we got settled and started picking, we knew.
“Oh my Gosh! Look at these berries!” we enthused.
“Check this one out!”
“There are so many of them! I barely have to move!”
“This is the best strawberry picking we’ve ever had!”
We picked and picked and picked.
“Do you think we have enough?”
“Let’s just pick a few more. These are amazing berries!”
In about thirty minutes, we were done picking and ready to go. We paid up and drove home.
Once we placed the flats on the counter, we realized that we had picked A LOT of berries. Gorgeous, plump, ripe berries. But A LOT of berries. Oops.
The anticipated two-three batches of jam turned into four, then five and then six. The kitchen air hung thick and humid with the scent of cooking strawberries, and we ate jam by the sweet, sticky spoonful. Still there were berries! Onto Strawberry pie. Strawberry puree. On and on and on. Hour after delicious hour.
Finally, we were done. All the strawberries were processed, the kitchen was clean, and the carefully jarred jam stood in neat rows on the counter, clicking as it cooled.
It was a delicious, berry-full day… Another summer memory in the books.