Enjoying my early morning coffee, the phone rings with an invite to go strawberry picking with my dear friend. The sun rising in the east announces the coming heat unobstructed by the fleeting clouds with hints of smoke from the neighboring forest fires. It has been awhile since my last taste of new berries hidden beneath the leaves lying upon soft straw. My mouth waters at the expectant pleasure that awaits. Seedy and succulent. Lips and fingers stained red and juicy. Can I eat just one? I think not. I will savor each and every one.
The picking begins bent over, sitting and kneeling. Row upon row. The morning breeze gently caresses my face. The search commences for berries not too large and not too small for the medium berries contain the sweetest flavor. Red, red, red and warm. In quiet and stillness we pick, slightly aware that on the periphery of our vision lie countless people of all ages and cultures. Children screeching in delight with each new-found berry proclaiming their find the largest and the tastiest. Children and grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. In every language, ” look at these beautiful berries” sounds the same, for you cannot hide glee and delight. A common purpose. A beautiful day. A mindful activity. Nothing compares to remaining present in this moment. For in this time and space no worry exists, no trouble to be found.
And then my mind wanders to the wares these beautiful red berries will become. The jams, pies, preserves, cakes and cookies. The loving labors of hands tenderly washing, cutting, stewing, and mixing. The joys of generations sharing this sacred and traditional time-honored activity. Capturing the aromas and scents that were once contained within the flesh and seed. Honoring the sun and rain which gave them life. All so that I may pluck from the earth this tender beautiful berry to nurture my body and soul. Berry picking in July, to be savored and enjoyed the whole year through. I think I will bake a strawberry pie.