Strawberry picking

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.