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.