Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Morning Thanks--Strawberry sin



Out here in the northwest corner of Iowa, the guilty pleasures of sweet corn are simply a given. Sweet corn comes with the territory. Shouldn't be long now that summer solstice is behind us and days are already shrinking. Maybe a month, at best--or at worst. It'll be here. You can bet on it--sweet corn is like the dawn.

That it is doesn't mean people take sweet corn for granted. No way. We pay outrageous prices for first fruits. Really. Anticipation turns Silas Marners into spendthrifts. Some people claim sweet corn alone is reason enough to live here.

If the Tall Corn State were really wanted to market itself, we'd simply link all of our summer festivals at the hip and create a gargantuan state-wide Sweet Corn Fest, then invite the world. Seriously, if we'd build it, they'd come because where sweet corn is concerned, this isn't Iowa, it's heaven.  Or something like that.

But strawberries are special grace. Only some summers get truly blessed. People grow strawberries, but as a garden crop they make untoward demands. Birds prey for 'em and on 'em, and basically laugh off scarecrows and whirlygigs.  Strawberries don't like Iowa heat, and they're a whole lot more thirsty than a good crop of anything we grow out here should be. Truth be known, they're unbiblical--they prefer their foundations a little sandy. They're even a little snooty, turning up their red noses at our 20-thou-an acre black soil.

So when we get 'em out here on the edge of the plains, we lose all semblance of self-control. 

Yesterday, a partly cloudy Monday morning, we picked way more than we needed, three whole flats of the roundest, reddest, juiciest berries folks around here can imagine. Hardly a dud in the bunch, and plenty of young'uns left on the plant to get rich and juicy tomorrow. In Wisconsin's lakeshore woods, where I grew up, strawberries grow wild in a perfect sandy homeland.  Out here, they're far more rare. They're immigrants, so raking in a bumper crop is just about as great a shock as it is a blessing.

So we had fun--grandpa and grandma with the boys, out in the rows on a perfect day. My knees creak, so I went down on all fours early, crawling along between the rows. No matter. We never made it farther than fifty feet or so--that's how thick they were. 

And when we got home, we partook of the bounty in shameful excess. We ate strawberries, we ate strawberry muffins, then we ate more strawberries. Last night I had strawberries on ice cream; this morning, strawberries on cereal. My wife promises more strawberry muffins and, she says, almost sexually, all sorts of questionable delights.

So this morning thanks are bright and red and juicy and sinfully sweet, and we got 'em in spades. This morning's thanks are for strawberries--so strange and sensual and wondrous we really don't deserve them.

Oh, the heck with it. Today, I'll cash in my Calvinist chips and join the Lutherans.

You know what Luther said. That's right. Sin boldly.


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