Sunday, 21 June 2015
Hello Summer . . .
Strawberries that in gardens grow
Are plump and juicy fine,
But sweeter far as wise men know
Spring from the woodland vine.
No need for bowl or silver spoon,
Sugar or spice or cream,
Has the wild berry plucked in June
Beside the trickling stream.
One such to melt at the tongue's root,
Confounding taste with scent,
Beats a full peck of garden fruit:
Which points my argument.
~ Robert Graves, Wild Strawberries
These last few weeks the grocery store shelves have been full of the promise of summer, beautiful over-flowing boxes of gorgeously sweet and ruby coloured strawberries. Strawberry season … one of my favourite times of the year. They seem very early this year, but they also seem sweeter. There is nothing more full of flavour, or sweetness than a homegrown English strawberry that has garnered all it’s flavour from sitting under a warm English sun, in a straw bedded English field. I would rather eat a warm English Strawberry in June or July, with the straw from it’s bed still clinging to it’s seed pebbled surface than a strawberry in January, sadly lacking in flavour that has made the long journey from Peru or some such place and been sprayed with some sort of chemical to keep it from spoiling before it can reach it’s destination on our grocery store shelves … it’s flavour only a ghost of what an English strawberry summer really tastes like.
When we were children, those many years ago, we used to pick the wild strawberries that grew along the railroad tracks that ran through the field along the back of our house. Small in size, no bigger than your baby fingernail, these luscious little treats, made up for in flavour what they lacked for in size. Usually discovered in the early summer, their tell tale white blossoms indicating their presence along with their heady scent, they seemed to grow abundantly amongst the coal and stone lining the track bed.
Trains went through there only about once a day, so it was quite safe actually to walk along the tracks in the hot summer sun and dream about the places you could go, and the places you could see if you followed their route, balancing on the thin steel rail … one foot in front of the other, arms outstretched, like a trapeze artist in the circus, a bit wobbly and then inevitably you would fall off and it would be the other person’s turn to impress you with their balancing skills. All would be forgotten though, if we discovered those telltale small fruits and flowers, and it would be a mad dash home to get something from our mother’s cupboard that we could gather them in.
My mother always had a cupboard full of saved plastic margarine tubs and ice cream buckets and lids, in all sorts of colours, so it was never any trouble finding something to gather them in. We’d race back and several hours would be spent creeping along the tracks, small plastic tub in hand while we picked and ate the precious and sweet little jewels. The hot sun beat down on our bent heads, the humming of insects our only companions, as our minds filled with dreams of strawberry shortcakes and strawberry pies …
In reality there would really only be enough for us each to have a small bowl of them, sprinkled with sugar and laced with cream. Nothing on earth tasted better and I’m not sure if it’s because they were the result of hours of labour in the hot summer sun or if it’s because they were free, but I often think back in my mind to those hot summer days and pick them again in my memory … my thoughts and dreams, all golden hued and full of the flavour and promise of summer.
We have all sorts of berries ripening in the garden at the moment. When they come I am sure they will come in a glut . . . our Tayberry Bush is just loaded with berries this year and there will also be blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries and black currants. Sadly there doesn't appear to be any plums or pears on our trees this year, and only a few apples. I don't know what is up with that!
Happy Father's Day to my dad! I love you daddy! I will be calling him this afternoon for a brief conversation. I don't know what their plans are. My brother is there visiting with his family at the moment, so I don't want to horn in on their time together, just want to tell my dad I love him and wish him a happy day. I am so blessed to still have both my parents.
A thought to carry with you through today . . .
"Fatherhood is not a matter of station or wealth;
it is a matter of desire, diligence, and determination
to see one’s family exalted in the celestial kingdom.
If that prize is lost, nothing else really matters."
~Ezra Taft Benson
Cooking in The English Kitchen today . . . a delicious Spiced Fruit Salad. Nice and light, and very refreshing too!
Have a wonderful Sabbath, and the first day of summer! Don't forget!
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And I do too!!