It's been a couple of years since I've been able to make time to go strawberry picking.
This past Monday I made the time.
I drove to the organic farm located around the corner from my house at about a little after 9am. I felt nervous and out of place - as if I really had no business being there. I was afraid it would be obvious to the cashier that I hadn't picked strawberries in years. She looked the part - with her long hair and no make-up, wearing her dirty farm clothes and relaxed smile. Would she be able to see through me? Would she size me up and know I was a fraud? Would she think I'd be better off buying a pre-picked quart of strawberries...the much quicker and less dirty option?
I felt ambitious as I pre-paid for a flat of strawberries - determined that if I was going to pick strawberries - I was going to get my money's worth.
As I carried the empty flat out the door and along the path to the fields, I was starting to relax - but still had a way to go before I could completely immerse myself in the moment. It was quite silly actually - how nervous I felt as I headed out to the field. I tried to act as casual as possible - silently praying that I wouldn't trip or get tangled in the lines that I had to duck under to get to the back field.
Picking a row, I placed the box on the ground and got to work. There was a slight moment of panic as I searched the first few plants and found only one strawberry worthy of picking.
As I tossed the strawberry into the empty quart box I glanced at the other 7 containers and wondered whether I had made a mistake in being so ambitious. Here I was already feeling the ache in my calves as I bent over each plant to search through the leaves. Squatting hurt my knees. I was trying to get my picking rhythm - something I thought I remembered from seasons past.
There was an older gentleman a few rows over. He knew what he was doing - at least he looked like he did. I kept waiting for him to look over at me, eager to share a cute little comment I had just thought of...
"there should be a free 10 minute post-picking massage included in the price"
...a comment that I hoped would provide an adequate enough explanation for the stiffness in my 46 year old body. But he never looked over.
Eventually, I sunk into the moment. It was a gloriously beautiful morning - humid enough to make the not-so-hard work of picking berries just hard enough to make you sweat - but with a strong enough cooling breeze to keep you comfortable.
I did find plenty of berries - enough to overfill my 8 quart containers. I didn't exactly find the berry picking rhythm I was hoping for but I did loosen my obviously not-used-very-much muscles enough to finish. I walked away from the field relaxed and rejuvenated...and very sunburned.
I placed the flat of strawberries into the trunk of my car and walked back into the market. My morning had done just what I had hoped it would. It reminded me of the time of my life when I made time to pick strawberries...when I wasn't the fraud at the farm.
I eagerly handed over my credit card as I chose my CSA pick-up date.
You have to make time. I'm glad I made the time. Next time I won't wait so long.