And it’s not even the season… except that I was recently given a pint of freshly-picked ones by someone who informed me that there are new cultivars that grow through summer, or at least through much of it. Huh. News to me. I’ve been walking snootily past strawberry displays at the farmers’ markets for ages, assuming they’re imports from re-sellers. And even if I’d known about the all-summer variety I’m pretty sure I’d have given them a miss, assuming hybrids taste yucky.
But the gift strawberries were in no way yucky. And they went very well with ice-cream, just like the real kind. If anything, these were more flavourful than the early varities, which I’ve noticed in recent years have been losing ‘something’.
But that’s not what’s on my mind, strawberry-wise.
It’s picking them. My first serious job. Aside from babysitting and selling Sarah Coventry Jewellery, Avon and Regal Gift Cards door to door. (Actually, Sarah Coventry was sold at ‘parties’. Of which I had one, my mother being my ‘party host’ and whose responsibility it therefore was to invite a rec room full of friends. The host received a complimentary Sarah Coventry brooch or scarf holder or mood ring… Anyway, can’t remember if/what I sold. It was such a sad, sad thing for a child to experience, it effectively ended my whole Sarah Coventry career.)
My strawberry picking career lasted much longer. Almost a whole strawberry season, as I recall. (Please note the season was much shorter then; the people who invented the hybrids had not yet been born.)
The best part was being picked up in a flat-bed truck at the corner of Bunting and Scott at something like 5:30 in the morning. Not only was it great riding in the back of a truck through the city, but none of my friends were up to see how nerdish I was, grinning madly, wind in my face, the sense of berry-fueled adventure coursing through my veins…
The worst part was the rash I got from eating more strawberries than I picked.
When I got my paycheque (I can’t believe I didn’t owe them money), I thought I’d made it, that it just didn’t get any better than this. I had a paycheque for god’s sake. With my name on it.) A picture exists of me holding this cheque. I’m wearing a tie-dye tee-shirt, cut offs and a blue paisley scarf over my hair (tied almost pirate style, but not quite) the way we did in the 70’s when we weren’t embroidering flowers and peace symbols on our jeans.
There’s a good chance I spent it on a Gordon Lightfoot album, incense and a pair of huaraches.
The above memory, courtesy of a post by Gwen Tuinman about her summer job picking tobacco leaves. (I win! You can’t eat tobacco leaves.)
Any other summer jobs of yore out there? Consider the baton passed…