6.22.2015

STRAWBERRIES & CREAM // elspeth

It's been a while. I've been trying to get back here. I made a pea salad that I thought I might share with you, but then it turned out to be totally unremarkable. We made and devoured these strawberry-rhubarb popsicles, but I'd already mentioned them. (Make them! Soon!) We took a trip to Maine, had the best fish chowder I've ever tasted, and have been unable to recreate it since. In between, we've been eating leftovers and at the restaurant and cereal. There was nothing much to report for days.


But then! The girls and I got up early Saturday morning and went strawberry picking in Falmouth. The fields looked terrible. There were weeds everywhere and the berries were tiny, and one older man picking near us spent the entire time complaining about "young people these days" and how they "don't call them the greatest generation." Apparently he thought the latest generation of farmers should have spent more time weeding their fields, and he might be right. But the very nice young woman at the farm stand said their berry plants were severely damaged by frost, and I suspect she and whoever else is running the show there did a cost-benefit analysis and figured there wasn't much use spending a bunch of time weeding plants that were hardly going to produce anyway.

At any rate, I should have thanked the man on the way out, because when I first arrived and saw the state of the fields, I felt the same way. But Sally was thrilled, and despite the fact that the berries were few and far between and incredibly tiny, they were also incredibly sweet. And in between the older man's bouts of complaints, Sally kept piping up with "This is so much fun, isn't it, Mama?" and "I love strawberry picking!" And so after about five minutes I realized we weren't really there for the berries, but for the experience, and I changed my mood accordingly. Nora pluncked down in between some weeds and some berries, and Sally and I spent an hour hunting around for tiny red jewels quite happily. 

I wish I had a picture of the girls leaving the farm, because they were both completely covered in dirt and berry juice, and they looked exactly like old photographs of me and my sister leaving Prout's Neck after berry picking near where I grew up in Maine. We came home with somewhere in the neighborhood of six quarts of strawberries and four quarts of sugar snap peas, and on the ride home we snacked until we got silly. 

I asked the young woman as we left about next year—whether they would be replanting, or if they were letting the fields go—and she said they would be putting in new rows. Maybe next year we'll have enough for jam, or even freezing.


In the meantime, we've been eating our berries the best way I know—sliced up and sprinkled with just a tiny bit of sugar, and then drizzled with heavy cream. Sally requests it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and until the berries run out, I think that's okay. 

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.