Big Red, Sparkle, Robinsons, other proven strawberry varieties to plant, train the runners.
Or what are called the “spider” satellite plants to give direction. Off shoots spinner thin IV lines off the mother fruit producer of red succulent nectar nutrients. Sold by the single box or flat. At a roadside open air farmer’s market of produce, fruit. Food grown close to home in Maine, not imported from California or out of state, the country.
Picking strawberries in early morning when there is glistening dew on the fertile soil.
As the sun shows up to start another summer day on a Maine farm. Creating a scorcher of a picture perfect day. The perishable fruit heaping out and over the wooden boxes. Brought in from the field. To get out of the sun’s oppressive rays with no chance of shade.
We used to load the flats by pickup. Shuttle them to the Earth floor cellar of the Maine farm house I grew up on. Where it was cool, damp, dark and a good place to double park. To preserve, protect the luscious Maine fruit. From settling which meant tapping into another box of strawberries. Loosing part of the profit. To level out the others needing some rounding. That are sinking, dropping from the over heaping by field pickers. Created from the rich fertile soil on the Maine farm. To avoid those losses of air, that compacts and settles the juicy payload.
Where rows and rows, divided by stripes, corridors of straw layers keep the strawberries in line.
The grass too from choking, over powering the red fruit with green seeds. To avoid requiring grass removal until the berry plants are high enough, all established. To hold their own with saw tooth leaves converting sunlight to sugar.
I ate so many strawberries as a kid on a Maine farm doing time picking them. To the point that all the other fruit was game for sampling, enjoying. But took a sabbatical from strawberries for the rest of my childhood. Other than the occasional blend of strawberry rhubarb Mom was known to roll out, tuck in the filling and slide into the oven. Add some heaping ice cream scoops invited, that are escorted to the end of meal celebration. And well, how can you resist a slab of any pie presentation?
Bought a big plastic container of strawberries from Andy’s IGA this week. As I sample them, what a tasty sensation.
Not because they are more flavored than ones we raised on the Maine farm in a three acre field by Moose Brook. But along with the fruit taste explosion, memories of the work that went into planting, training, picking and peddling them as a Maine farm kid adds to the take away. And maybe avoiding them for years created the renewed hunger.
Like falling in love again with an old flame but new knowledge, wisdom and coming into the relationship from a different on ramp that has no exit. The urge to sample the red berry taste that meant long hours, work obligations had been self shelved.
Feeling like a veteran soldier back from fighting foreign wars on other soils.
High decorated from picking potatoes growing up. Season after season. Still have the field dirt in my veins. Doing the circuit. Work ethic happened along with filling the empty barrels. Finding a top slot to wedge in your ticket number for credit before the hoist. Payment at the end of the harvest week of working outdoors. In all kinds of weather and field conditions.
The fourth year we could turn the strawberry fields into you pick situations. What a free for all. Like trying to herd cats. No way to keep the pickers from all over creation that swooped in on the field in just a few sections of the grow. And you better plan on four boxes being eaten picking the one. And sky scraper stacking them to make sure a box was on steroids. High altitude and weighing in at a box and a half. Then plow them under and replant. Do it over in a new spring on a Maine farm.