Summer Sweetness

We went strawberry picking yesterday. A little farm located a pleasant drive north of Normal grows healthy berries by following organic growing practices. My birthday is usually the signal that it is time to make the trip, but this year we called ahead only to hear the unpleasant news that the season started and ended unusually early. "You may be able to get a few quarts if you spend some time," was the unwelcome message I received from the (admittedly friendly) farmer. With hopes slightly daunted, we decided to give it a try.

Though the field was definitely overgrown with thistles, and though the berries were cleverly hiding under the rotting leaves of the plants, we managed to harvest a heaping four quarts of deliciously sweet berries. My husband was the careful, choosy picker who filled one quart with large, plump, delicate specimens. I was the more ambitious picker who filled three quarts with acceptable berries.

Most of the berries we found were hiding under the semi-shade of these bug-eaten leaves, next to the juicy carcasses of their less fortunate over-ripe relatives.

Perfect for freezing to enjoy later on a bleak winter day.

The self- appointed farm "watchgoose" disliked our intruding presence.

Piper attempts to help himself to a luscious strawberry still warm from the June afternoon sun.