Breezes and Berries

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California strawberries taste great when you haven’t had a fresh strawberry for a whole year. This spring, I purchased one token carton of shipped-in strawberries — just enough to whet my family’s appetite for the real thing.

Dad had been hungry for shortcake at the first sign of the shipped berries in the stores, which prompted me to buy us each some. He had his cake in a bowl before I had the berries out of the shopping bag.

Spring brings with it many long- awaited sensations. How pleasant it is to feel cool air drifting through open windows tickling my bare arms that were a little too warm when I went to bed and by morning are just a little too cool.

How free it feels the first few times I walk outside to the car without stopping for a coat or sweater. The birds echo my fresh, free feelings in their escalated chirps and warbles. Our cat can’t get enough of the outside after the confines of winter’s unpleasant weather. He waits an impatient vigil by the door, always ready to make an exit, coming inside only to eat and occasionally cuddle for a snooze.

Memorial Day came the earliest it can possibly be this year, leaving us with a whole week of May after the holiday, undecided as to whether summer was here or not, and me, with my archaic fashion hang-ups, wondering if I could start wearing white shoes.

It was a welcome sight when the sign appeared up the road at the beginning of June with arrow pointing “STRAWBERRIES”. I mentioned to Dad that our freezer jam was gone at last and it was time to work on a batch. He was ready for fresh berries, too.

We’ll head to the berry patch soon. Dad can stay seated in the car, and maybe I can con Kathie into helping me pick. Maybe we’ll take a chair and he can sit in the patch and watch. It will be a far, nostalgic cry from the 80 some years ago that he picked strawberries for a penny a quart and earned enough to help buy his few new clothes from the Sears catalog before school started.

Times and people change, but, come summer, there is nothing like the first feeling of a breeze and the first taste of a ripe, Ohio strawberry.

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