Antique Childhood

Jeanette’s Strawberries

The strawberries I saw in the grocery store yesterday were resplendent!  Plump and scarlet, like a box of rubies.  The clear plastic containers could not contain the sweet aroma of ripeness and readiness.  I was powerless to resist their allure so I put them in my cart and took them home.

As I sat in my kitchen dipping each fat nubby strawberry in a tiny bowl of sugar, I thought of Jeanette.  Jeanette lives across the street from my parents and has for about the past 50 years.   She used to plant a big patch of strawberries every summer and to me that was like growing your own candy.

One summer day when I was about five, I was playing at Jeanette’s house in the backyard with her children when she came in from the garden carrying a basket of strawberries.  I watched as strawberries tumbled from her basket into a silver colander that glinted in the morning sun.  She rinsed them with the garden hose and water streamed through the holes in the colander in precise lines onto the warm concrete.

Then she gave each of us our own little bowl of sugar to dip them in.  Four or five neighborhood kids sat on her back steps in the late morning sunshine eating sugared strawberries that still smelled of the earth.  On that day, at that moment, the world was as perfect as Eden ever was.

I don’t know if the strawberries were really that good that day or if it was just one of those ordinary moments in life when something beyond you whispers your name and calls you into another level of awareness.

And if you answer that call, you can return to visit that perfect place and eat sugared strawberries in the morning sun for the rest of your life.

33 thoughts on “Jeanette’s Strawberries

  1. By the end of May, we will be eating ripe strawberries! Straight to the patch and pick and then home. They weigh you before you pick and then after so they know how many berries went into your mouth! Truely!!

    Strawberries, blueberries, peaches I love this time of year here in Illinois!

  2. Oh, I’m sure those strawberries were just as good when you ate them as your memories of them are. We are planning a little garden for our granddaughter and was hoping to plant it Easter Sunday but it rained all day and was too cold. But hopefully, this weekend we can do it. And I hope she has good memories from it. I’ll be sure to get lots of pictures for her so even if she doesn’t remember it she will know it happened.

  3. Oh, I long to be Jeanette’s neighbor! My husband tries to grow tomatoes, and bell peppers, and all manner of healthy things. I only want to grow STRAWBERRIES (never have even tried — I think too much of strawberries to subject them to my gardening deficiency).

    Thanks for taking me with you in your memory…

  4. “…just one of those ordinary moments in life when something beyond you whispers your name and calls you into another level of awareness”

    I love when God does this!

  5. Isn’t it amazing how vivid some memories of childhood are!

    I love fresh strawberries and ate entire pint yesterday!

  6. Oh I how miss being able to wander out to the back acre and wander through my dad’s old garden, picking strawberries early in the morning (and eating half of them before I got them back to the house). Then later in the season it was raspberries (both in the garden an in the woods nearby) and rhubarb. They just don’t grow as well here in Phoenix as they did in Minnesota….

    “Sweet” memories are the best kind of memories. ;D

  7. I have similar memories of eating fresh tomatoes from my grandfather’s garden. We’d take a basket of fresh toms, a salt shaker and a sleeve of Saltines when we went fishing. We didn’t catch much, but I’m not convinced that was part of the agenda. But the memories of that salty, earthy juice running down my elbows is very vivid.

    Thank you for reminding me that so many blessings come from those everyday moments. This is what I want to create with my children…

  8. One of my friends had an elderly neighbor who would always have treats for us. We would go over to her house, sit at her chrome-edged table and eat cupcakes baked into ice cream cones, cookies, or whatever other snacks she had on hand. Sadly, I don’t even remember her name, just the snacks. But the kindness remains.

  9. Those moments are blessings to be treasured. When it comes down to it, 99 percent of the best moments and happiest memories in my life are of simple things.
    I need to remember every day to savor those simple moments.

  10. And then there are strawberries from California, beautiful, soon to be ripe, red, and tasteless. I emailed the growers about how could they sell something so beautiful and so tasteless. Needless to say I didn’t hear back. Also peaches, bought 4 gorgeous ones, let them ripen on the counter and cut into the first one, brown, tough. I guess I just need to go to the farmer’s market and get real fruit. Sigh.

    * * *
    That’s really surprising because usually the fruits and veggies that come out of the San Joaquin valley are fabulous. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood and everyone had big gardens and shared the bounty, zucchinis the size of small pumpkins — which now makes grocery store produce always a disappointment, especially the tomatoes. ~AM

  11. Peach icecream, hand-dipped, from a mom and pop gas station on a hot summer day when the asphalt smelled of gasoline and was hot enough to fry an egg.

    I’ve never had peach icecream that good again.

  12. Man, I don’t even like strawberries and want to run out to see if our little wild ones survived…you sure can spin the words pretty 😉 Thank you for taking me back to all sorts of sweet, summer memories – Happy weekend!

  13. My grandparents owned a peach and apple orchard, so I was spoiled in that I had the most delicious fruit all summer long for the first 22 years of my life. We were lucky enough to grow up in the same small town with my grandparents, and I have such good memories of my mother taking my brother and me out to the orchard. I don’t know how many times my grandfather lifted me up to pick the perfect peach for an afternoon snack. I can still taste its sweetness and feel its stickiness on my chin and hands! My mother still has the farm and keeps a huge garden there in the summer, but the orchard is long gone. Thank goodness the good memories are not.

    This post brought back some wonderful memories for me. Thank you.

  14. You described that so well, I could almost feel the warm sun on my shoulders while tasting those sweet berries. My 4-year-old is already asking when we can go pick strawberries again, I think it’s like picking candy for her too!

  15. Oh, thank you for this post! It reminded me of picking strawberries in my Grandma Margie’s garden. I spent many summers with her and my Grandpa Bud in their small Nebraska town. Quite a change for a girl from the San Francisco Bay Area. Those summers are some of my fondest, most vivid memories of childhood and of my beloved grandparents. Sadly, Margie and Bud are gone now, but my memories (and my fondness for strawberries!) remain with me always.

  16. If you like them dipped in sugar, try this: dip a berry in a small amount of sour cream, then a bowl of BROWN sugar! YUMMY! After a while the brown sugar bowl gets all messy, but everything still tastes great.
    Best, simplest dessert ever!

  17. What a sweet memory! My youngest and I share a love for strawberries and blackberries. The strawberries at HEB have been heavenly lately and we have bought our fare share but we really can’t wait for the blackberries that grown in our backyard to come out! And yes we to dip them in sugar.

  18. You made me smell my grandmother’s kitchen. That black skillet, aged by 50 years of frying chicken, in use. How I’d love one more meal cooked with love by her!

  19. That was beautiful, and I know exactly what you mean. I still get teary when I think of the delicious, sun-warmed autumn grapes grown on the slopes of my Grandaddy’s back yard. Oh, the aroma of those grapes! I guess they’re a sort of symbol for everything that was lovely and wonderful about my childhood.

  20. I have vivid memories of a similar experience from childhood–sitting on the warm stones of our patio, legs splayed around a cardboard box of freshly-picked strawberries still warm from the sun, gobbling them up by the pint. Heaven, I tell you.

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