Just got back from the farmers’ market where the strawberries are out in full force. If you’ve never had an Oregonian strawberry before, you are missing out, just like with the peaches.
When I was 10 or so, I got my first job picking Oregon strawberries at some ungodly hour in the morning. Mom would walk me to the school bus stop, where a bus would come pick me up. It was kinda scary at first, going to work without my mom. Who would tell me what to do?
Mostly no one, you had to talk to the people around you to find out how it worked. O sure, the farmer would give a nice speech, but the real information came from the older (like 13 or 14 year olds) people around you. You found out that this was a good farm because they paid out 7 cents a pound. The one across the way only paid 5 cents. You found out it was fine to eat the strawberries as you picked, but that they got really mad when the kids would do strawberry washes (grab a handful of strawberries and mash them wildly on someone else’s head. Getting a strawberry wash meant you were liked. Of course, it meant that you had flies around your head for the rest of the day, and everything was sticky, and holy hell was the farmer pissed, but you were liked).
I ate so many strawberries that summer that we found out that I have a fruit allergy. It’s mild enough that I have to eat a good amount of fruit to trigger it, but once it’s triggered, I can do enough damage to myself to scar my face. Or so the doctor told my mom. The fruit allergy went away thankfully when I hit my early teens, only to resurface after a particularly fun margarita party with the neighbors when I was 26. Sob. It’s gone again, and I have to say I don’t want it back. I love fresh organic fruit more than chocolate, cake and ice cream.
I picked enough strawberries that I was the richest kid I knew. And since I was a bookworm, that meant only one thing. I could buy any book I wanted. I bought first edition Oz books because they were all out of print by that point (except for Wizard of Oz and one or two others). I still have them too – pride and joy of my library, mostly earned from picking strawberries (my sister helped me supplement it eight years ago with a beautiful set found on the East coast).
We bought many veggies today at the PSU farmers’ market, and I am starting to get giddy with what is in season. We will be having a fennel and radish salad on the side of fennel steamed fish (what ever is fresh and good when I go pick it up). I’m really dangerously close to eating 3 pints of strawberries well before they make it into the pie I promised Brian (I don’t eat pie, and I dislike warm mushy fruit). I’m starting to learn who the farmers are, who I like and I am glad that I went with the CSA we did. We bought a mint plant from them last week (yes, you will hear a resurgence of “Gotta kill the mint”) and three basil plants this week. Our farmer told us how to water them (I’ve been doing it wrong for a long time) and how to pick the leaves so the plant still grows (that’s what I’ve also been doing wrong).
I’m trying to talk Brian into a hike today, and I think he wants to work so we probably won’t. I’ll have to start finding hikes I’m comfortable doing on my own – he’s been surprisingly reluctant due to being over-worked and generally too busy. I’ve got approximately 4000 hikes I want to do this summer, so I’m worse than a dog who hears the word “walk.”
YAY summer, YAY farmers’ markets, YAY OREGON the best place ever.