Strawberry Fields Forever

For all my attempts at organizing, streamlining and downsizing, sometimes sentimentality wins out. This is why I have ancient birthday cards, scraps of poetry and pictures tucked away in folders and boxes. Sometimes this soft spot results in new purchases that strike an old memory in my heart.

While at the outlets the other day with a friend, I found the sweetest little porcelain berry basket in a soft mint green. I saw a smaller version at Target a few months ago and passed it up, telling myself I would pick it up later, but I never saw them again.

I was so excited as I walked through the entrance at Harry & David and saw a full-sized berry basket greeting me on the table – I bought it on the spot.

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Summer is forever tied with strawberries in my mind. Fresh berries straight from the bush, the way your mouth waters right before you first taste their tangy flavor, bowls of berries sprinkled with Sweet N Low in a 70s green Tupperware bowl, watching the red juice stain the paper towel my grandmother sliced them on . . . Delicious!

I remember my grandfather in his strawberry patch. It stretched the length of the back yard right by the pool; there were rows of red strawberries soon to fill green cardboard berry boxes in my grandparents’ garage.

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For me, the smell of strawberries seems incomplete without the smell of chlorine. In the summer we would go swimming at my grandparents, and Pappy would work in the garden. As he made his way down the strawberry patch putting berries in his pail, he would every so often toss one or two into the pool for my brother and me. We would swim or dive, grab the berry and munch away. The time spent at my grandparents and in the pool floods my memories when I think of how I spent my early summers.

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There was also a summer, more sad, when I helped my grandmother with the garden. It had been a long day, and the strawberry patch seemed to stretch out twice its size. I was picking strawberries as the sky darkened. While I put berries into the bowl, the song on my iPod shuffled to “Strawberry Fields Forever” and just at that moment it began to rain.  So I sat in a light summer rain, and I picked strawberries and sang along.

The little green porcelain berry box reminds me of those summers at my grandparents and brings up memories as bittersweet as ripe strawberries.

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