My mother used to tend a large garden in our back yard full of most everything, including a row of precious strawberry plants with sweet berries that delivered a daily dose of happiness.

There was something almost playful about them; the more you picked, the more they appeared. Every morning, precious red berries would peek out from low boughs. Ha! Here we are again, they laughed.

These strawberries rarely made it into a pie. My father used to say that cleaning them washed the flavour away, so we ate them straight from the vine. After we’d had our fill,
I remember my father walking through the rows at the end of the day to pick the few that remained. One day, he said, this simply won’t do! And just like that he started drawing up plans, staking out land and buying millions of tiny strawberry plants. We’re going to make our very own strawberry patch!

And so the cultivating began. I’m not so sure they produced the financial return he may have been looking for, but for a few of my childhood years, a large area of forgotten brush behind our yard turned into a field of laughter. With fresh, beautiful earth, rows and rows of tiny plants, over time, grew into our very own strawberry heaven.

Here, under a delicious prairie sun, on a day when berries were at their peak, we found a field and sent our own kids out to pick. With muddy boots and berry-stained smiles, they returned some time later with their own buckets of fun. With a few simple additions we adorned their berries with velvety, buttery crusts and cream cheese laced with lemon. And with fingers dipping in and out of the saucepan long before it was cooled, we made strawberry preserves that tasted like sunshine.

Styling Kari Wardrop. Photography Karen Harrington. 

Styling Kari Wardrop. Photography Karen Harrington. 

Berry Picking5

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