I’ll always call 2019 “the year of the strawberry summer.” We have one full garden row of strawberries.
Over the past four years, when the strawberries ripened, we would have one good picking, one or two mediocre ones and then nothing.
This being my first personal effort at raising strawberries, my knowledge is pretty limited. I finally went to several of my favorite gardening books and did some research. While I couldn’t pinpoint a symptom of a disease and the only predators I saw evidence of were blue jays, robins and an occasional aberrant barn cat, I did learn something.
There are two major kinds of strawberries — ones that are annual producers and ones that continue to produce over a period of time. I thought we had the annual kind of berries, but obviously I was mistaken. So far we’ve enjoyed fresh strawberries for over a month. Not only that, we are picking a generous basket full every other day.
My morning routine usually means up at 5 a.m. for coffee, toast and conversation. Lately Zack usually goes out around 6 a.m. to weed whack or drive the tractor with the brush hog to cut the tall orchard grass. I emerge a bit later and weed the rows. When that’s done for the day, there are strawberries and squash waiting for the picking, our only ripe produce for now.
The year of the strawberry summer reminds me of the story pictures that First Nations people have used over many years to keep records of important events. I’ve seen photographs of buffalo and deer hides covered on the skin side with hand drawn pictures — a herd of horses of all colors including one spotted one, perhaps “the year of the spotted horse.” One photograph showed a hide with tiny renderings of what our history books call “Custer’s Last Stand” but the Lakota people called “the battle of the Greasy Grass.”
Of course, lots of people use pictures to mark significant events. Think of all the wedding photos you’ve seen, baby pictures, high school and college graduates in those often solemn studio portraits, but also in happy groups who mark the moment by throwing their caps in the air. There’s Facebook where you can post a picture of baby’s first moments or Dad’s last days, a short video of a son’s winning touchdown or a grandson’s first fish, or my annual photo of the first beautiful strawberry.
Newspapers place pictures of significant news events on the front page — recently I’ve seen pictures of the pandemonium of celebration when the U.S. women’s soccer team won the world championship; the picture of a British tanker with a hole ripped in the side; a photo of the new firefighters who will fight the next round of wildfires here in Northern California and wherever called.
Reading the news these days, I wish I would see other pictures that told important stories — the year wars everywhere ended; the year the our borders were opened; the year that all people won true equality; the year we reversed the impacts of climate change.
But then friends and family alike ask me what’s the point of expecting the impossible. I guess my hope is that the old John Lennon song “Imagine” is true: “You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one…”
True or not, I refuse to stop dreaming. For now I’ll celebrate the year of the strawberry summer and make a large cake piled high with bright red berries and whipped cream for next Sunday’s potluck.
Pamela Tinnin writes from her ranch on Pine Mountain. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.