It’s a full-on assault of the senses…but in a good way. That first step in to the grocery store on an early summer day and you are greeted with strawberries. Fresh. Local. Strawberries. Not giant berries as big as your hand. Small red berries that smell so sweet you can only imagine how good they taste. You buy a quart becasue, well, it’s Maine and this particular berry season only lasts a few weeks. Otherwise we pay through the nose to get them from somewhere else. And we have, and it’s usually a bit of a let down.
A lesson one must learn when living in a place with very distinct seasons is to embrace the season you are in. This may seem obvious, but it takes time to realize. There are all sorts of things one must and can do year-round, but you can only plan to do certain things for so long and then that season is over. None of this, “I’ll do that when I’m not so busy”. That magnificent and short-lived thing is Happening Right Now. Around here it’s usually around food. Fiddleheads in March (or is it April? I keep forgetting mostly because it’s 2 weeks and I still say “I’ll stop and pick some up next time”). Berries in the summer. Apples in the fall. You get the idea.
So, to Old Ackley Farm we went on Saturday morning. 10 minutes from our house and we are on a giant and gorgeous farm. Chickens, sheep, cows, pigs, etc. The farm also grows quite a variety of produce. And ’tis the season for a few acres of berries to be harvested.
Annika had a great time picking a lot and eating only a few. We think that we were so focused on reminding her of what to pick (red) and what not to pick (white) that it didn’t really occur to her that she could eat them. Anywhere else and there would be multiple signs (like in the bulk food aisle) or Someone in Charge calling out to remind us that there’s No Eating. Here, no problem.But she did and we did and so did everyone else. The berreis were practically begging to be eatn right then and there.
So, all told, we picked six quarts. in the past 24 hours we’ve enjoyed them in our dinner salad (with balsamic vinegar of course), in a cobbler and yes, in this morning’s pancakes. A lot remain that need to be hulled and rinsed and probably frozen. Frozen until that dark winter day when everything’s white and the only memory of summer are photographs and berries in our freezer.
These aren’t complaints, oh no. For about 8 weeks our lives in this quite little town by the sea get a bit hustle-bustle. The population feels like it triples and suddenly we are looking for parking and waiting in lines. It’s a nice feeling. It’s like mingling at a party. The influx feels great, because it’s short. Soon enough everyone will go back from wherever they came. Soon enough we can drive from one end of Main Street to the other and know (or at least recognize) every person that you see along the way.