I have a lone strawberry plant in my backyard which is doing its very best to give me the flavor of fresh-picked summer. So far I’ve had 12 berries, but more are on the way. It is a “forever” plant so throughout the next two months, I may find one or two bright red berries every few days to keep that first warm berry taste in my mouth.
When I was a child on Dad’s farm, a few wild berries grew along the driveway. I watched them daily as they blossomed, formed green berries, and gradually turned red enough to pick. Wild berries are small, perhaps the size of my little fingernail, but twice as sweet as cultivated ones. If there were two berries or more, I’d share them with Mom and Dad. That very first taste made all that watching so worth it. It was the promise of more and of a sweet summer.
As an adult I continue to cherish the first taste of locally grown berries. Whether from my back yard, the Thursday farmers’ market or those from “pick your own farms,” they are a treasure.
When I have a dish of berries, I struggle deciding whether to make a biscuit shortcake, have them in a bowl with sugar, or just sit down and enjoy them one by one. It is a dilemma!
Find a nine-inch square of paper. When I was a child we used scraps
of wallpaper. Today I chose a piece of colored computer paper
1. Fold it into a triangle
2. With the fold toward you take one of the points and fold it to the middle of opposite edge.
3. Do the same with the other point.
4. Now fold the front flap of the top into the front bottom cup.
5. Poke or punch a hole into the top flap.
Now go outside and find flowers – even dandelions will be pretty. Tuck them into the pocket or cup you have made.
As children we would hang them on a friend’s door, knock, and then run and hide. The person coming to the door was surprised and hunted down the giver to thank them with a kiss.
* * * * *
You can use this cup for many things. It will hold a drink for a short time.
As a teacher, I always made them for children who lost a tooth at school. It could be safely stored in a lunch pail or coat pocket for the tooth fairy.
Mostly I remember the fun we had making these baskets at school and then going home to search for flowers. I’d beg my mother to let me go down by the creek where I knew the May flowers were in blossom along with purple, white, and yellow violets. I never really went alone because Chum, our cowdog, would not let me. He assumed the duty of protecting me no matter wherever I wandered.
Icicle lights have hung on the front of my porch since the beginning of Advent. Now they are gone back into hiding for several months. Christmas was four months ago, but the cold weather has remained. The question everyone in the Northeast is asking: When will Spring finally arrive?
My daffodils are up and in blossom, so I feel lucky. On a pleasant day a few weeks ago, I cut and pulled away the dead leaves from last year’s plants. The perennials in my small garden are sending up sprouts and tentative new growth, but they too are longing for warm weather to do their stuff.
The only plants that seem to have no problem are the grass and wild garlic. Of course, I don’t want them where they’ve chosen to grow.
The sky is gray. Where is the sun and warmth we seek?
Know this! It will get hot this summer and we will be moaning about it. It is always safe to complain about the weather. Wait a minute, day, or week—it will change.
This picture of my husband and I standing in front of the Bloomington Reformed Church the year he was ordained shows a considerable change in clothing people wore to church.
We had lived in Bloomington (our first church) about three or four months when this was taken. Richard is still in his Genevan gown following service. I am wearing a suit I do not remember but would presume to be a neutral light brown, tan, or gray. My hat is red. In the 1960s a woman always wore a hat to church. I am not wearing gloves which were also demanded if you were to be “properly dressed.” I would guess this was taken after the congregation left, so they had been discarded. When I went to church I would also have carried a matching purse. Certainly a new minister’s wife was expected to be properly dressed.
A picture of a little girl swinging in the wind on a storm door prompted this memory of the one-room Sanford Country School in the early 1940s.
When the weather turned cold, we started school with an additional ritual. Mrs. Parsons, our teacher, would ask if any of us had soup or something to be heated for lunch. A chorus of “I do” would respond. We’d open our lunch boxes to take out jars and hand them to Mrs. Parsons who put them on the top of the brown monster (a coal stove) in the back corner of the room. By lunch time the jars provided a hot lunch for us.
To make sure everyone had a hot lunch in the winter, Mrs. Parsons brought a sandwich toaster to school. At lunch time she sat in the back corner near the windows where there was one of the few place electric outlets in the room. All of us took our sandwiches to her. She cut them into quarters and laid them out on the shelf. She toasted a few quarters at a time and called us to collect them as each one was ready. They smelled so good whether they were peanut butter, tuna, bologna, along with steaming tomato or chicken soup. Now I know my thicker homemade bread was much better, but then I considered the kids who had square white store-bought bread for sandwiches and Campbell’s soup to be more fortunate.
On one particular winter day stands out in my memory. The snow started in the morning and built quickly into a blizzard. Snow piled up on the highway and was surely very slippery. I’m sure Mrs. Parsons must have been very concerned about getting all of us home. She had no way to call parents and close the school early. By the time school was finished, the unplowed roads were impassable.
Dad came to get me with our team of horses and a bobsled. A farmer’s bobsled was made with the body of a wagon on two sets of large sled runners. Dad waited with the horses just outside the fence that surrounded the school yard. The fierce wind scared me. It felt like it could pick me up and blow me away. I grabbed onto the fence to pull myself along. Finally, Dad had to leave the horses and to come and carry me to the wagon where he tucked me, Eleanor, Ruthie, Doris, and Betty and Bobby, all who lived on our road, under heavy black wool horse blankets to keep us warm while he faced the driving snow and wind to guide the team of horses back home.
I don’t remember, but I don’t think Mr. Parsons was able to get to Sanford with his school bus. I know there was one night the bus got stuck in the snow and all the students and Mr. Parsons stayed the night in someone’s home. I think Mrs. Parsons stayed with the family next door to the school overnight.