Monday, July 2, 2012

Strawberry memory chain

Photo: homegrown strawberries in pot, CT 2012

Even in these days when we can buy imported fruit and vegetables in any season, local seasonal foods, especially fruits and berries, are still very special.

To see and smell a basket of fresh picked local strawberries in a farm market is to board the memory train that goes back in time. To make the most of this journey, I take my berries straight home to wash, hull, and sort.

Fresh strawberries are perishable; no matter how flawless the fruit, or how recently picked, there are always a few that go in the bin and some that go straight into the jam pot.

The smell of strawberry jam evokes a long chain of past summers. Without a day or two when the kitchen is filled with the aroma of gently boiling strawberries, the summer season feels incomplete.

As a child in a small town, I picked wild strawberries along the railroad tracks with my brother. We lay on our bellies and sighted through the grass beneath the low foliage to glimpse the tiny red jewels.

Wild strawberries are tiny and grow sparse on the plants; on these excursions, we brought no containers, but popped these sweet juicy treats straight into our mouths.

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