Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Don't blink if you want to pick strawberries in CT
Rain hammered Connecticut almost every day in June, the "month of the strawberry." Each day I considered venturing out to pick strawberries, I would look outside and let the clouds deter me. We'll go tomorrow. And tomorrow returned again and again until this past sunny Sunday when, finally, we could travel to Rose's Berry Farm in South Glastonbury for breakfast followed by unabashed picking and eating. We would ride home with berry-filled cardboard trays and red-stained faces, feeling that annual ah-ha satisfaction of truly eating locally and in season. Is there any better feeling in the world than digging your feet into the earth and eating right from a plant (I try not to think of the amount of pesticides needed to grow fruit these days -- kills the romance -- or the amount of money a farm loses with a pick-your-own program)?
Breathing in the blessings, I sit on the veranda with Tim and the girls looking out over the exquisite, bucolic Connecticut fruit farm. Isn't life wonderful?
"I'll have the french toast with strawberries and cream," I smile at the waitress.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Strawberry season just passed. We have blueberries now," she says.
What?! Strawberry season is over? It's July 5, days away from June. How can strawberry season be over? "Over" as in complete, finis, fruitless, barren fields, nary a strawberry in the patch? This thought I cannot bear. My mind had not considered blueberries. I was fixated on the red, juicy berry, the nectar of gods and goddesses. Blueberries conjure up childhood memories in Maine, not local eating in Connecticut. Hmf.
"Ok, well, I'll have the quiche." Now I am beyond repair. I don't even want fruit. I order quiche, with bacon of all things. I don't even like bacon. I watch as I rebel in my mind against the short-lived season of the strawberry. I need to grieve and cannot muster enthusiasm for another fruit at the moment. I feel like I'm cheating on my beloved strawberry, my raison d'etre du jour.
"Quiche?" The entire family shrieks at me with surprise.
"Yes, quiche," I insist with my arms crossed like an angry child.
I glance over at the organized hills where laborers, even on a Sunday, bake in the sun to glean sweetness from our land. In the distance, I can hear the muffled voices of the girls ordering their french toast with blueberries and cream.
"Where are the blueberries?" I ask the waitress.
"Right up on the hill along the road."
"Oh," I respond.
I wanted to ask where the strawberries grew so I could mourn my loss for this entire year. I had a few weeks of peak picking time and I missed it. The season has passed. I had taken the strawberry for granted. In the winter, I will mourn my loss even more when I see the big, plastic containers stacking the grocery shelves bragging California's annual prosperity. Not in Connecticut. We can't afford to blink or else we'll miss the growing season of the little red blokes.
As the waitress leaves to put our order in, I stop her. "Excuse me?"
"May I have a side of blueberries?" No sense in missing that season, too, I realize.
"Sure, we've got plenty of those."
In the end, I chose to live in the season and savor the moment. And, in this moment, the blueberry boasted its appearance.
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