The first summer we arrived in Nova Scotia we began seeing hand-written signs outside Spencer's, the local garden centre, announcing that Lore's strawberries had arrived. What's the big deal with Lore's strawberries, I said to myself. But we bought a pint and took them home.
I remember my first bite of that first strawberry. It evoked in me a curious combination of emotions: speechless joy, but also anger that I had been so badly fooled for so many years, and sadness for all I'd missed. A strawberry is not something to be casually plunked onto the side of a plate, for colour. A strawberry is -- oh, let's just say it -- a sign of heaven. And a hard dry thing having only the appearance of a strawberry is a travesty and a mockery and does not deserve the name.
The Nova Scotia strawberry season lasts only a few weeks, depending on the weather. It is to be patiently and eagerly awaited, and entered into with awe. You must empty out everything that keeps you from joy: your anxiety, your cynicism, your lack of forgiveness, your sense of entitlement. Make room, instead, for the fullness of gratitude. Taste and see. When you eat a strawberry, do not speak. The moment is too precious for that.
And then, because you cannot keep it (except for freezing, but that's not the same), the season ends, and only its memories remain.
Last fall Joanne McFadden, the pastor at Trinity United Church in Shelburne, offered me strawberry plants from her parsonage garden when the time was right. Then, the other day, the time was right. I dug the new raised bed Greg built for this exact purpose last fall, and added plenty of magical island compost.Joanne gave the strawberry plants to Greg. They sailed across the sea to their new island home.
In only a few years, there will be strawberries on McNutt's Island. In the meantime, I'll watch for that handwritten sign at Spencer's, a simple word to the wise: Lore's strawberries are here.
Lore's Strawberry Farm is located at 5505 Upper Clyde Road, in Middle Clyde. The phone number there is 902-875-2102. You can pick your own strawberries at Lore's, or just get them at Spencer's.