We jumped out of the car, trying to keep ahead of the black thunderclouds that seemed to appear from nowhere. My daughter raced to the farm stand and had her bucket ready before I even got myself out of the car, while my son, older by two years, hung back and threw his baseball over and over into his mitt.
"Go ahead," I yelled to her, and she took off down the farm road and into a row of strawberry plants. A moment later, she shouted, "I found one! I found a red strawberry!" She held it up for all to see, and plunked it in the bucket. Then, "I found another one! Look! Look!" And repeated that for the next dozen strawberries until she got into her rhythm.
My son, eight, was more subdued. He picked a few, ate one or two, talked about the Boston Red Sox and school. Hard to remember that just a few years ago, he was the one running full speed down the rows of strawberries, shouting with joy at discovering a perfect berry, jumping from plant to plant. And amazing to think that probably in a few years, neither will gallop through farm fields with abandon, so thrilled by the prospect of a fresh strawberry that they must sing about it.
I don't know why, but a strawberry never tastes quite as delicious (or as juicy) as when it's still warm from sitting on the vine in the sun. Strawberries you pick yourself taste better. And though we go strawberry picking a few times every year, there's still that gasp and shout of excitement as my youngest spots her first strawberry in the fields.
Luckily, here in South Carolina, we're blessed with a slew of pick-your-own strawberry farms. And since it's been a cool spring, most farms are still producing lots of beautiful strawberries and will be for a couple more weeks.
Last week we headed over to Cottle Strawberry Farm
just outside of Columbia
, and there were still plenty of strawberries in the field. To find a pick-your-own farm in your area, click here
So get out there and pick some strawberries with your kids while you can. It's a fleeting time; both strawberry season and young childhood.
Always call ahead to the farm you plan on visiting to check on weather and crop conditions.