Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"We were walking up to strawberry swing"*

The taste of summer is a sweet Popsicle, the way it sticks to your tongue for just a moment before it melts and the juices slip down your throat. Maybe even better than that is the glug of an ice-cold beer pouring from the can, its bubbles tickling your tongue and throat. Even better still is a perfectly cooked hot dog right off the grill, blackened just enough so that it crunches as you bite into its hot, juicy meat.

But hands down, without a doubt, better than all of those treats (no matter how you personally rate them) is the strawberry, and not just any strawberry. I'm talking the perfect strawberry picked with your very own hands from a picturesque field on a sunny hill. The strawberry that was so plump and red you slipped it into your mouth before you even thought of dropping it into the bucket with the others.

In that first bite, you taste the sun-kissed sweetness. The flavor explodes in your mouth and you think Oh, forgive me, strawberry, for ever cooking you or putting you in the refrigerator. I'll never again taint you with pies, ice cream, or cake. Then the tang bites your tongue. Taste buds you forgot you had wake up and scream in pleasure and you think This is better than...(I'll let you fill in the blank). Mmmmm...oh, sorry, I think I was drooling a little.

I had just such a strawberry the other day at Jones Family Farm. My husband and I had gone on one of our pick-your-own excursions (we also do this with apples at Bishop's Orchard in the fall and of course with the veggies in our own garden all summer long). There's nothing like harvesting your own food and serving it to those you love.

Also at the farm was one little girl who I'm sure understands the camaraderie offered by this activity (although she may not experience the taste of the strawberry in quite the same way as an adult). I don't know her real name, but I affectionately refer to her as Olivia in my head.

She was picking strawberries with her mom and they were in a row next to a woman who was probably a little bit older than the mom. Olivia chatted with the older woman in the frank manner of a friendly little kid. The woman finished picking and said good-bye. She made it a few rows away before Olivia spoke in a voice as sweet and perfect as the strawberries themselves, "Enjoy your strawberries." Enjoy, indeed!