In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Strawberry wisdom

For years, before we came to this blessed place, I ate something that looked like a strawberry but actually had no taste at all. After a while it became something I wouldn't even bother to buy, even though, of course, it was available in the grocery store all year around. But once in a while it showed up on your dessert plate in a restaurant, a pretty garnish.

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.


Anonymous said...

You're right Anne, those 'strawberries' we find year round in the grocery store are indeed a mockery. The real thing grown locally makes up in height of succulence for what it lacks in length of growing season.

I spent much of my childhood summers picking small wild strawberries while fending off mosquitos. They seemed even more wonderful than the tame varieties.

Janet said...

Oh my yes! Strawberries! And before that rhubarb, and after that raspberries and then wild blueberries. While strawberries are on, days will go by when that is all I will eat.
By the way; have you ever watched a horse eat raspberries - it's amazing that such a large mouth with so many teeth can delicately select a berry and strip it gently from the bush!
I can hardly wait for rhubarb - will go in search of some tomorrow.
Janet in Hall's Harbour

Neil and Susan Brown said...

There is nothing like fresh strawberries. We have a large raised bed of them. They are ever bearing and last into early Fall. Our grandchildren couldn't believe the taste difference from the store bought. I'm looking forward to our first bowl full. Happy Mother's Day!
Susan :)

Janet said...

Anne: Yesterday I picked up Greg's book and I cannot put it down - I'm two thirds of the way through it already.
I knew but had it confirmed, that your island home is the one I salivated over on Wolfgang's website some years ago - I knew it was not for me, on the wrong side of 65 and helpmateless as I am. I am so glad to see it loved and lived in.
Happy Mother's Day to you!!
Janet in Hall's Harbour