...and Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking--strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of.—"The best fruit in England—every body's favourite--always wholesome.—These the finest beds and finest sorts.—Delightful to gather for one's self—the only way of really enjoying them.—Morning decidedly the best time—never tired ... cultivation-beds when to be renewed—gardeners thinking exactly different—no general rule—gardeners never to be put out of their way—delicious fruit—only too rich to be eaten much of—inferior to cherries—currants more refreshing—only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping—glaring sun—tired to death—could bear it no longer—must go and sit in the shade."
I always think of this scene in Emma when we pick strawberries, which is becoming a yearly thing for us. We haven't successfully grown more than a handful all of any given season yet, but there are two or three places close enough by where we can go to pick our own.
Especially with as many pickers as we have (and we usually go with a group, too), it doesn't take long to pick all we can eat before they spoil, plus some to freeze or process. We went armed with bonnet and baskets, and everyone very enthusiastically dove into the task of finding the reddest, ripest strawberries they could find. (Except 2-year-old Anwen—she really liked the green ones.)
Still, it doesn't take long for the little ones to get tired. And since I don't have canning down yet, I don't mind calling it quits as soon as everyone has one full basket, give or take.
We've frozen about a fourth of the haul. Now I need to figure out what to do with the rest! What feast days are coming up?