Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Berry Patch

Today I went to Horse Creek Farms to pick strawberries. I turned at the hand-painted signs, one corner and then another and another, off the paved road and onto a gravel lane, and then along a bumpy track beside a ryegrass field.

It was only the second day of the season, and the berries were large, plentiful, and perfectly ripe. It took only a short time to pick two ice cream buckets full.

I kept running into people I knew. Gina and her children were at the edge of the patch when I arrived. I picked alongside Shannon's children toward the center of the patch, and 12-year-old Benson told me he'd just read in one of my books about picking strawberries in Minnesota.
[Lots of extra credit points for Benson.]

Shyla was picking into the cutest little bucket.
Benson and Carson
I ran into even more friends and their children when I was checking out, and I showed Teresa a shot of the youth group and her daughters on their trip to Canada, painting at Beaver Lake Camp.
Sherry checks out Elissa and Carita.

"Are you all by yourself?" at least two people asked me.

"Yes. I'm at that stage of life now," I said. And I looked around at all the moms with children out in the patch and wondered if they had any inkling how special this day was, this moment, or this task.

Not so terribly long ago, I used to corral everyone who wasn't busy at the warehouse, prod them into the van, and go to Harry's Berries or Horse Creek Farms to pick 50 pounds or more of berries.

Invariably, one child was lazy, an older sibling was bossy, somebody had to pee, the toddler was dirty,  someone spilled a bucket, and I tried to drum up energy and enthusiasm for us all.

Also invariably, some older person in the patch would say sweet and sentimental things to us, like how wonderful a family we had, and how lovely it was that we were all out picking like this--comments that seemed vastly more flattering than the current behavior and attitudes warranted.

I always thought it was kind of odd.

But today I looked around at the acres of green leaves in the sunshine, the bright miraculous berries hidden below, the beautiful families out gathering together--competing, talking across the rows, helping the toddlers--and I wanted to say, "You guys! This is just the most amazing thing ever! You have no idea!"

Instead, I took pictures.
Corwin had earbuds in, which helped him pick faster of course.

To the Berry Patch Moms: You are doing it right. This is how it's supposed to be, right down to the squished berries on your children's knees and the slow 10-year-old and your own impatience to get the job done. Picking berries together in the sunshine will give your children a solid core and a valuable advantage that will never leave them. 

After the last container of berries is in the freezer, please sit down with a dish of ice cream and fresh sliced berries. Take a bite, close your eyes, taste and believe. It is a miracle, and you are making it happen.

You simply can't go wrong with taking your children to Horse Creek Farms to pick strawberries.

I was told that these young men biked all the way from Halsey to pick for their mom.


Quote of the Day:
"I'm thinking about what strawberries cost in Manhattan and crying a little inside.
On the other hand, there are tons of people from here who've never been in an Oregon strawberry patch eating warm berries and going home with buckets-full to eat and freeze. So I'm very blessed :)"
--my young friend Esther O'Campo, after she saw a few berry pictures on Facebook


  1. Back in Illinois when I was a kid, my dad used to pack us all up and take us to the apple orchard to pick apples. Great memories! And for some reason, this also brought to mind the roadside sweet corn stands that were all over the place out in the "country" when I was a kid. The "country" with its acres of corn fields is now clogged with urban sprawl and strip malls. Sigh!

    1. Sorry to hear what's happened to your "country."

  2. Your encouragement to thank God for this sweet, precious stage with my children (and even the irritations that you so apptly described) is exactly what I needed to hear. :)
    God is so very, very good to us.
    Great job and lovely pictures!


    1. Thanks, Shannon. It was so fun picking with your children around.

  3. I love this post, Dorcas! Not least because of the validation that I did something right as a mom. And the pictures make it all so vivid. One of the best things about Horse Creek Farms is that it's right by Loretta's bakery. :)

  4. What encouragement your words give.