In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. ~ Gibran

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever

Summer has finally arrived in Portland, after an especially cold and soggy Spring.  The saying goes in the Northwest that Summer doesn’t actually begin until after the 4th of July.  Well, here it is the 4th of July and I am enjoying one of my favorite rites of Summer in Portland….picking strawberries at a neighboring farm.  I love picking my own produce throughout the summer.  We are blessed with the abundance of produce and accessible u-pick farms throughout the rural areas surrounding Portland.  The very first crop available to pick is strawberries.  The varieties that are grown here are amazing…juicy, red flesh throughout, fragrant, and although small…they pack a wonderful strawberry flavor. 

Containers in hand, my husband, daughter and I headed out early on the 4th to a nearby farm about 10 minutes from our home.  Our mission was to pick enough ripe, juicy berries to yield at least 10 servings of strawberry shortcake for dessert that evening at our 4th of July barbeque.  This was the first year that we have gone to this particular farm.  What a pleasant surprise.  Not only were the fields groomed …tidy straw placed neatly between each row of strawberry plants, but there were acres and acres of perfectly symmetrical (ah….order!) rows of strawberry plants set amid the breathtaking backdrop of green rolling hills and the coastal range mountains.  It was picture perfect.  I couldn’t ask for a prettier setting for the task at hand.  Being a non-native Oregonian, I am still in awe of the natural beauty of the landscape.  Every vista is postcard worthy.

Looking around, I noticed that we were not the only family that morning.  It seemed like picking strawberries as a family tradition was something that many families upheld.  I loved watching the parents of young children explaining the virtues of choosing red, ripe berries over the unripe green berries that their toddlers seemed to select! As my family settled in by choosing their perfect rows, we challenged each other to see who would fill their containers first.  After a little more than 30 minutes, we compared our yields.  Both my husband and I had our containers nearly full.  My daughter, on the other hand, had only 4 perfect berries in her container.  When I asked her the reason she said that she was going for perfection and those were the only berries that met her high standards!  Trying to reason with my 19 year old, who is always looking for a reason to “push my buttons”, I took the wind out of her sails by telling her that she was right, they were perfect.  I was just glad to have her along for the adventure!  We then took our heaping containers over to the farm stand and were
amazed that we had picked exactly 15 pounds at $1 per pound.  For $15 we had fresh berries for our 4th of July barbeque with enough extras to freeze for strawberry smoothies throughout the summer.  The best result though was having made another great memory with my lovely daughter.  I’m sure we’ll be laughing about her 4 perfect berries for years to come.

Happy picking! Pam  

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