June 05, 2004

The Fruit of My Mind

I think it is the seasons that I miss most.

Strawberry season was first, the end of April/first of May. I would take the girls and grab a few wooden crates. They would remove their shoes and slide their feet in the loose dirt around the vines. Pledging to touch nary a berry, they would place a few in my flat and proceed to fill their bellies to overflowing. When I stopped by a friend's home to drop off one of the many flats, she told me before she saw the berries that I smelled "wonderfully sweet."

Next the blueberries popped out in splendor on their small bushes. I didn't particularly enjoy the cheap tasting ice-cream that came in five gallon buckets, but they were fun for the children to use in their picking. My favorite place to pick was off of a precarious dirt road in Barton County. There the grower would pleasantly greet us and point us in the direction of the kind of berries we preferred. All I remember was the row of the extra sweet, my personal favorites. We moved along the rows plucking the small blue beads. Once again, there were more berries on hands and faces than in the buckets. I would take them home, rinse them, and freeze them on baking sheets. We could eat them as snacks or I could measure them out for muffins for a Saturday morning breakfast.

Cherries from a neighbor's hard picking were pitted and pied and pulled out for quick snacks at summer swim meets.

In the midst of a humid Missouri summer came the blackberries. We once had a home that was literally surrounded by bushes that were at minimum 20 feet deep. Needless to say, the rabbits abounded in the protection of the briars. The nicks were a small sacrifice for the plump berries that would burst in your mouth, or on fingers if not delicately picked. The insects could be intense at times, competing for the juicy sweet prize.

Apples from Kuhn's Orchard were the best I ever had. In that old barn, I was introduced to crisp Pink Ladies (now a family favorite); tart Granny Smiths with green skins; gorgeous Galas elegantly flecked with gold. The cider was frozen in a milk style gallon jug. Warmed up on a fall evening, it made our hands almost as warm as our hearts.

I always identified well with Scarlett's love of the land; Missouri is my Tara and I cannot wait to return to her. I love her strong oak arms; her moody temperament; how she draws the sweat from my body as a sacrament unto her; how her girdth and height spans cultures and ethnicities. Through her and supporting her are the rivers of life and hold so much history of this continent. Yes, she is my Tara; I will return home, someday.

Posted by Rae at June 5, 2004 11:41 PM | TrackBack

Absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder doesn't it my friend. But take heart Scarlett, you will be back to your Tara in only a few more years, and when you are, the Missouri strawberries will be all the sweeter. For now, just enjoy that dry Utah air and not being completely wet with persperation the moment you step outside from June through August!

Posted by: Kris at June 6, 2004 06:19 AM
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