Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Strawberry Picking 2016

We headed out to Heartland Farms last Monday night for our annual strawberry picking adventure.  It's one of my favorite summer traditions and it snuck up on me a bit this year.  After a hot and humid start to June, we took our chances and waited for the mid-seventies to return, but almost missed the berries.  The perks to being late to the game provided ample picking space and a field to ourselves as we closed the place down and picked over eight pounds of plump and juicy goodness.

I remember every year we've spent picking berries down to the smallest details.  I remember the year Cruz sat on the outskirts of the field in his little white onesie, shoving berry after berry in his mouth, juice running down his arms, his legs, and his onesie that I later threw away and let him ride home in nothing but a diaper.  I remember his bleach blond hair and the confused, but content look on his face as he watched us from the grass, not yet crawling and not too familiar with this table food thing.  I remember the year we picnicked at Kingsley afterwards, snuck beers in and ate big sandwiches with roasted tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.  I remember laying on the quilt with Beau, watching Cruz and Mila explore the new playground, and feeling so happy.  I remember jumping high on the bouncing pillow with Cruz, and giggling with him uncontrollably as we watched Mila eat a berry, stem and all last year, the day after returning home from Florida.  Certain traditions like this one create such time stamps to look back on.  One part of me longs for those years when Cruz and Mila were still chubby babes knitted to my hip and one part of me loves to watch them grow in independence and build these traditions as their favorite memories, too.  I just hope Cruz remembers the berries more than the bounce house... :)

Cruz was quite helpful this year, other than a few times he "accidentally" plucked a strawberry without the stem and thought he just as well better eat it.  After tasting the first mishap, Beau and I noticed it became a more frequent occurrence.  Mila, on the otherhand, didn't bother with made-up excuses.  When we weren't scolding her for walking on the berries, we were directing her to put the berries in our basket instead of her mouth.  We failed, obviously, but paid our debts when we settled up with the owners, knowing her red stained cheeks would give her away in an instance.


It's been a week and sadly, our plenty is gone.  Cruz helped me bake a strawberry pie one afternoon, ever so carefully piling berry after berry into my crust, popping a few in his mouth as we worked.  I brought a strawberry kale salad to If:Table last week, and used the leftovers for strawberry shakes before bed two nights in a row.  They're short-lived, but sure make for a sweet addition every June.

And a messy one at that!


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