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 13, 2017

Morning Thanks--Strawberry Day in Alton

My grandson, who ranks among the world's most picky eaters, loves 'em, and that's saying something. But then, who doesn't? I once heard tell of a preacher with such an aversion to seeds that his helpmeet wife would pick them off every berry he'd eat. If I were Dante, I'd create a separate place in Hades. 

It's a story I'd believe only if the church absolutely loved the preacher. Which they didn't. Weren't fond of his wife either. All of that makes sense. And maybe it was raspberries.

But we're talking about strawberries, the berry that isn't technically a berry. Sorry. "Technically, it is an aggregate accessory fruit," saith Wikipedia. Saying "aggregate accessory fruit" in public will crown you the nerd king, so repeat it at your own risk. "The fleshy part is derived not from the plant's ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries," in case you're wondering. "Each apparent "seed" (achene) on the outside of the fruit is actually one of the ovaries of the flower, with a seed inside it." 

Saying that makes what that dominie's wife did as sinful as it seems silly.

No big deal. "How shall I love thee?" saith the Bard; "Let me count the ways." 

Yesterday, Strawberry Day, started long before we started eating. It began with our annual pilgrimage to a wonderful pick-your-own place. We got there just as a parade of four-wheelers started carting the first shift of berry-pickers back to the fields, having rescued them earlier from tempests that we sat out in Hospers, where we hid out from hail beneath a towering maple; and then, ten minutes later, sat beneath an underpass outside of Sheldon where we stopped when we couldn't hear ourselves think.

So we got to the fields just after the storms and before what looked to be another a'coming. Now let me count the ways--here's where the tally begins. While we waited, one grandson nursed a strawberry malt while his brother and their grandparents had strawberry donuts. That's two ways. More coming.

The fields were wet and wild with strawberries, the paths between blessed with thick and soft cornfield mulch. Maybe two decades ago already, I lost the ability to bend over for very long, so I got down on my knees (one of which is getting x-rayed tomorrow), then skidded along on my butt. I told my grandson that once we'd picked our quota he'd better find a skid loader.

In the field, truth be known, we ate strawberries--not a ton, but some. A couple dozen. That's three ways, right?--a precious few right off the plant.

My row had been picked once already, but the bounty was still plentiful, even if the berries weren't super plump. No matter. In an hour or so we had a couple of flats full, the limit my wife had determined this year. Last year she'd suffered the after-effects of way, way, way too many. 

I successfully got to my feet, and the four of us left the field wet and dirty--well, I left wet and dirty. Grandma and grandsons managed to look less hog-pen-ish.  

After the plucking, we had muffins--that's four ways; after muffins, jelly--that's five. Somewhere in between, strawberry sundaes--that's six. It was a long day, and when we brought the boys back to their place, they were bearing gifts worthy of the Magi.  

Wait a minute! I forgot supper--strawberry souffle, and even His Picky-ness loved it. That's seven.

Garrison Keillor used to go on-and-on about sweet corn's first buttery bite making Minnesota all worth it. Iowa too. But the un-fruit, strawberries, rank right there with mid-July sweet corn. The morning after Strawberry Day here north of Alton, I forgive that dominie his persnickety-ness, and his wife's abject slavish devotion. It was, after all, all in the cause--the joy--of June strawberries.

This morning I'm thankful for 'em, and that certainly includes every last one of them still comfortable abiding in our fridge the morning after

My wife says today she's making strawberry soup. That's eight. 

And it ain't over yet. 

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