When you are brought up by a family of gardeners and farmers, every plant in your garden will evoke a childhood memory. Working on our allotment plot gives me time to think of all those who shared their gardens, flowers, and produce with me when I was a child. Now that strawberry time is here I am reminded of the story my Dad told me about when he was a kid growing up in Tennessee.
My grandpa was a cotton and strawberry farmer. My Dad, being the youngest and still at home, and like most farm kids, always helped with the harvest. He told me how they would pick the berries and put them through a grid to 'size' them. The best and biggest berries would stay on top of the grid and be sent to market. Times would be good! Well, as good as they could be on a Tennessee farm in the years between the Great Depression and World War II.
The bad times came when all the strawberries were too small to 'size'. When all the berries slipped through the grid there was no crop to sell.... no money... no prospects until the next summer. These must have been very lean years. Not much was ever said about those hard times. I can't image how my grandparents must have felt. They never complained about anything. They were stoic and kind, really 'good people'.
You would think that being problematic, my family would have had their fill of strawberries but I still remember the big cut-glass bowls filled with prepared berries on my grandma's sideboard, covered by a pristine white cloth, waiting to be eaten with a slice of homemade cake after lunch. Always the optimist, my Dad would finish the story by saying, 'I didn't mind when we had to eat all those little, rejected berries. Everyone knows the little ones are the sweetest'.
Here's to all those sweet little berries, enjoy!