Strawberry Fields Forever
We have been strawberry picking three times since the season began. No, we do not have a problem. Yes, we can quit anytime we want.
We know it’s almost summer. We know you have a lot to do. Lawns to mow, meat to grill. The baseball season is in full swing and the NBA finals continue their long and inexorable death march to the finish line. And we know that you have been strawberry picking before, and you always pick too many, and then they just sit in the fridge, glaring at you accusingly every time you open the door until you can’t take the guilt anymore and you end up feeding them to the cats. We know you are thinking of sitting this one out.
We don’t care. This strawberry season is different from all other strawberry seasons. This year’s batch is enormous and legendary. Their hue is a rich fire engine red, the color you see only on packs of strawberry flavored gum, and the sweet and tart notes are perfectly in balance. Go ahead, pick one off the vine, pop it in your mouth, let your eyes roll back in your head and the juice dribble down your chin. You think you’re the only one sneaking free samples? Look up and down the row son, everyone’s got strawberry juice stains on their shirts.
Why this year? Was it the ice storm? That stretch of 90-degree days last month? Uranus in the tenth house? Who cares? The point is, the über-strawberries have arrived, growing redder and fatter with each passing day.
We have been to Fraleigh’s Rose Hill Farm in Red Hook, and picked strawberries in the blazing sun with a view of The Catskills in the distance. We went to the organic Thompson
Finch Farm in Ancram in a rain storm, thinking we would be the only ones. Instead we saw dozens of pickers in ponchos spread out between the deep green rows, with the fog and rain slowly rolling down between the trees, making the whole scene look like a 14th Century Chinese landscape painting.
And we picked strawberries. Brother, did we ever pick strawberries.
Time’s a-wasting, folks. Fire up the car, plug in your GPS, blast “Strawberry Wine” by Ryan Adams. Hell, blast “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter. We won’t tell anyone. Make jam, make shortcake, make strawberry rhubarb pie. We made strawberry balsamic buttermilk ice cream over the weekend and it turned out so good that we’ve had it for breakfast every morning since.
And, if by the time you read this the last strawberry has fallen, the vines are bare, your true love has left, your dog starts lying to you, the Mets have lost six in a row and the earth has become a cold and dead place, don’t worry. We just got a first taste of the incoming cherry crop and it looks like it’s going to be a banner year on that front as well.