It’s June, its’ Wimbledon, it’s the strawberry season!
But just what is it about a trip to the PYO farm that fills you with the innocent excitement of your childhood? The anticipation of being the first one to find the fattest juiciest strawberries to fill your small carton; the occasional naughty nibble of one or two of the sweet red berries or the joy of strolling up and down Mother Nature’s shopping aisles with the warmth of the sun on your back?
Or is the short lived strawberry season something much bigger than just searching for a tasty treat? Does that snapshot of summer succulence home in on our primitive urge to gather ye rosebuds while ye may?
We have visited the same PYO farm for the past few years and always been delighted at the ‘table top’ offering of succulent red strawberries that hung heavily from the waif like thinness of the strawberry stems. Each year we look forward to visiting the same place expecting to find our delicious treasure.
On our first foray of the season, there was talk of scones generously topped with clotted cream that would then be completely concealed with a liberal helping of strawberries or perhaps a Victoria sponge with lashings of double cream and strawberries scattered in copious quantities.
However, our hopes of Eaton Mess for pudding that night were brutally dashed as we read a hand written notice at the entrance informing us that the farm had shut at 4pm.
So we returned home empty handed and empty cartoned, determined to return at the weekend.
So with the dawn of a new day, we set off once more. The gate was open, the signs said ‘open’, it all looked promising.
But once more our hopes of a bounteous harvest were dashed. Instead of rows of tended green leaved bushy strawberry plants drooping under the weight of their juicy red fruit, we were met with just a few rows of dejected looking plants. The berries were small and meagre and having instructed my apprentice pickers to pick only the fat red berries, even I was struggling to find anything bigger than the size of a raspberry.
What could have lead to the demise of what was once a healthy crop? We concluded we had either missed the best of the crop or the best was yet to come, although the scenes of devastation should have given me a clue.
We returned to the shop and noticed the shelves that were normally heaving with masses of local produce were bereft of anything, not even so much as a bunch of asparagus.
I was soon to uncover the mystery, it would seem the husband and wife team who had had aspirations and dreams of producing everything people wanted had sadly become a team of one following the untimely demise of one half and the whole venture had become too much for one person to cope with.
It seems unlikely that even the strawberry tables will survive through to next year which is very sad but it made me think about life and destiny. No matter how well you may plan your life project, if kismet has other ideas, there’s not alot you can do.
But don’t get me wrong, everyone should have their life game plan but be prepared for the googly and a bit like strawberry picking, make the most of it whilst it’s there, because before you’ve had a chance to have your fill, the season is all too soon over.
Life is not so much a bowl of cherries as a one season opportunity to grab the best on offer. So don’t delay your dreams of delicious strawberries until tomorrow, because by then it may just be too late and you will find a large ‘closed’ sign or that the opportunity has passed.