By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
While Joann and I were in North Carolina on our recent photography trip, we were travelling down a road behind a prison work crew bus. (If you’ve read our April 2010 blog story entitled “A Case of Mistaken Identity,” you’ll notice this prison work crew thing is sort of a theme for us, and we encountered them twice on this trip!)
Finally, the bus turned off on a road to the right and we continued straight. We much prefer not to be behind any sort of bus or large vehicle, because it makes it hard for us to see what is coming up, and we might miss something important. And sure enough, shortly after the bus turned, we came up to a field planted with rows of strawberries and we noticed that there were people walking among the rows. There was also a sign announcing a farm market, and since we had driven past several already and hadn’t stopped, Joann suggested we stop at this one.
We turned toward the tent which was set up next to the field of strawberries. This wasn’t any old farm market – this was a market selling only fresh, sweet strawberries! As we pulled into the parking lot, we could see buckets and buckets of the bright red berries sitting on tables under the tent. We jumped out of the car and got some money for strawberries and Joann got her camera. Then we went over to check out the strawberries and to ask if Joann could take some pictures.
There was a very friendly young woman under the tent selling the berries and handing out buckets for the “pick your own” visitors. When Joann asked if she could take some photos, the woman said, “Of course!” and then went about her business. But she didn’t want to be in any of the photos, so she kept stepping out of the way as Joann went about taking photos of the gorgeous red berries. The table had a few quart boxes of strawberries and many buckets.
I watched her work as people came in to buy strawberries and to go into the field and pick their own. She would hand out buckets, and with each one, she would explain that the already picked buckets were $10, and the “pick your own” were $8, as long as “yur buckets are like ar buckets” . (I mean no disrespect, but want to put a bit of her accent into this). “If they’re a lot bigger, like if they’re up to here” and she motioned her hand high above the top of the bucket, “I’ll have to charge you more, so maybe $9”.
As I watched, kids were coming back to the tent with buckets partially filled with strawberries, and the parents had also partially filled their buckets in hopes of paying for just one full bucket. One young girl, who appeared to be about three years old, was swinging her bucket of strawberries. As her mother tried to take the bucket to combine them, she began to scream. (Wouldn’t you scream if someone were trying to take away the sweet, red strawberries you had just picked for yourself?)
As Joann finished up her photos, she asked me if we should get a quart or a bucket, and I said I didn’t know if we could fit a bucket in the cooler. She said she thought we could and then the young woman spoke up.
Joann: “I think we should get a bucket.”
Ruth “Are you sure? Will it fit in the cooler? Will we get them eaten before they spoil?”
Young woman: “I think you need to buy a bucket because if you don’t, you’ll regret it later.”
Joann: “That’s true, and then we’ll be down the road and we won’t be able to come back.”
Young woman: “I’d buy the bucket, you won’t be sorry. And I have some paper towels here, so you can eat some right away.”
Since we always travel with a roll of paper towels for emergencies and for preparing meals on the road, we told her we would be ok, and paid for our bucket of strawberries. We returned to the car and rearranged the cooler so the bucket would fit. Then we each picked out a handful of big strawberries to eat immediately. As we drove down the road eating those sweet berries, we planned what we would do with the whole bucket.
We had strawberry yogurt parfaits for breakfast and strawberry spinach salad for supper. And best of all, we had fresh strawberry shortcake for dessert!
So take a drive and visit some country farm markets to see what you can find. The weather has been warm and fresh strawberries can’t be far behind!
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