Thursday, February 14, 2008

Where's the Berry?

Happy St. Valentine's Day wishes to all of you! I'm blessed to have the love of my life to share this day with--I hope the same is true for you. My kids have a party today, so we had to stop at Wal-Mart last night to buy some candy to attach to the cards that they made for their friends.

When we pulled into the parking lot I thought that it was either Christmas Eve or that they were giving merchandise away. It was packed!! However, when we entered the store, it didn't seem busy at all. Until I approached the St. Valentine's Day aisle, that is. Have you ever been to a department store during a 75% off sale? Well, this was worse. It was so crowded that I couldn't get through. So I parked the kids at the end and told them to send a search party if I didn't return in an hour. What a mess! I didn't find anything because it had all been picked to death. I had to buy some candy without the special pink and red wrapping. I hope the other children eat it.

As you know, I haven't had access to a car on most days, and when I do go out, it's only to run to Costco, Sprouts, and Trader Joe's for some much-needed groceries. My Wal-Mart is in the other direction. That's my feeble excuse for not buying my husband a card, until last night. I have to say, I bought the lamest card of our entire marriage. It was the only one they had left, and I had to fight another customer for it. Our struggle resulted in a wrinkle or two (and maybe a little rip), but I was victorious! Hey, I may be small, but I'd do anything for my guy.

What's in the shape of a heart (almost) and has seeds all over (weak transition, I know, but that's all I have time for). We picked the first strawberry from the seedlings we planted last month! We've been watering and nurturing them for weeks. They haven't been attacked by bugs or varmints of any kind. My youngest son caught some worms on our property yesterday. After I examined them to make sure they weren't slugs, I let him put them in the strawberry planters to cultivate the soil.

Since some of you were so helpful with your suggestions, I thought I'd take a picture of our first fruit to share with you. The kids were so excited!

We don't use pesticides or growing chemicals of any kind, so we didn't expect a large berry. To put it in perspective for you, here it is on a different scale:

Since the children and I have been equally responsible for the garden, it's only fair that we share its bounty. I thought that my oldest daughter was napping, so that I'd only have to divide it between four of the children (the baby wouldn't appreciate a sliver of strawberry)--plus myself. (Hey, I don't have the willpower to pass up a delectable treat like this.) So the tiny berry had to be sliced into only five pieces. I was able to do this, but the ends were almost microscopic. Just as I was about to divvy it up, my "napping" child raises her head from the other room and says, "I want some!" Staring at my expert carving job, I realized that "some" was a strong word. So I took a sliver and cut that in half--one portion for her and one for me. My son offered to pose with his full share of the berry. He got the big piece.

When we buy strawberries at the store, a three pack isn't enough to satisfy one serving for my family. Each child is used to having between 6-10 berries, depending on their size, and they always want more. But the kids were so eager to taste the fruits of their labor, they didn't complain at all.

The children nibbled on their portions like little rabbits in order to savor the sweet, juicy garden-fresh treat. I, on the other hand, popped my half sliver into my mouth and promptly got it stuck in my teeth. There are several more strawberries in various stages of ripening. I'm keeping my knife sharpened, since it's unlikely that we'll be able to pick more than one or two at a time. A few hours after our taste test, I, finally, was able to dislodge the seed and small amount of flesh from my molar. The kids were right--having our own garden was well worth the trouble!