Just as summer is beginning here in northeast Ohio, the strawberry fields are ripe for the picking. I've been waiting for the "perfect" day to take my grandchildren. I had hoped the crop and weather conditions would be favorable the first week of June when all four of my grands could go, but sadly we had too much rain that week. So two of them had to go back home to SC and missed out.
When we had a dry and slightly overcast and not too warm day this week, my friend Jennifer called and said she and her two boys were going to a nearby farm to pick. I didn't think twice about it, and hurriedly got the two grands I was babysitting packed in the car and off we went.
I'm actually not a farm girl, but I do like to pretend now and then. I was having such a great time being outdoors and giving my grandchildren this new experience that I began to think about what a teachable moment it could be. While we were moving slowly down the rows between the plants and filling our baskets, I asked Jennifer if she felt a little like Ruth (of the Bible) gleaning the fields. We happened to be near the edge of the strawberry field, where in ancient times, crops were left for poor people to come along and pick, allowing them dignity as well as sustenance.
The strawberry season is a very short one, lasting only a couple of weeks. Since I only picked one nice basket, I'm so tempted to try to find another day to go again. We'll see. But isn't that just like life? Life is short, even if we'd live to be 100. We really do need to live each day to the fullest and redeem whatever time we have on this earth.
Did you know that there are different varieties of strawberries and they grow to different sizes? Some people prefer large ones, but I have found the smaller ones tend to be sweeter and tastier. Strawberries also need to be handled with care. They are a fragile fruit and can be bruised or crushed easily, so care should be taken not to overfill the baskets with too much weight. Also, walk in the rows between the plants and be careful not to trample on them. I think there could be a whole sermon in here making an analogy between strawberries and friendships!
One thing I definitely did notice while we were picking: Some of the plants were full and the leaves were firm and a lucious green color. Others were dry and withering. The plants that were the healthiest looking had the best looking berries hidden under their leaves. So as I moved along, I first looked at the leaves and focused on the fruit from the healthy plants. Surely a spiritual lesson here as well!
I ended up giving away almost half of my berries. How could I not share my experience and my joy? I was fortunate to have the time to "play in the fields" and I know how blessed I have been to be on the receiving end in the past.
Strawberries are not only delicious, but did you know that a cup of fresh strawberries contains about double the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C? So if you'll excuse me now, I need to go take my vitamins!
*Thanks to Jennifer Meybaum for photos of the children.