The First Strawberries

I grew up in New Jersey, the Garden State, but as a child knew very little about plants. We had trees I could identify—sycamore and oak and maple—and a Rose-of-Sharon bush grown from a cutting started at my mother’s girlhood home in Virginia. Other than that, though, nothing. I was a girl from the suburbs: Peaches arrived in cans and carrots existed in deli coleslaw.

Tim, on the other hand, spent his formative years on a farm in Texas. His parents grew berries and peas and corn and squash. As a boy, Tim worked alongside his father, watching what his father did and learning from it. Now as an adult, my husband tracks rainfall the way other men follow pro sports. In the ten years we’ve been together, I’ve learned a lot from Tim.  I, too, love to get my hands dirty in good soil. I worry if we plant seedlings too early; I fret about water levels.

As parents, we’re passing along what we know to Olivia and Mateo. Gardening is one of our primary weekend activities. On Saturdays, we haul bags of fertilizer and pull weeds. We clean the garden beds and stake the tomatoes. 

This morning before breakfast, I picked this season’s earliest bloomers, the strawberries. This year’s crop looks to be shapely and unblemished and sweet. Perfect. Olivia and Mateo sliced the berries over their cereal. I packed some into each of their lunch boxes. As Tim always says, “Our strawberries are better than a vitamin pill.” We get our daily C.

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