Rain and Berries

Red peonies hanging and wet

Red peonies hanging and wet

May 29 – The phrase “The morning after,” brings various thoughts to those who hear it. Well, I am using it to remind me of the beautiful flowers and clouds and peaceful day that came just before the storm. As it began to grow dark, the wind picked up, and when I opened the door to go out to the porch, I saw black clouds and the peony bushes being blown about and battered with that wind, I knew the weathermen were going to be correct in their forecasts this time. As we played our usual games of Rummikub we could hear the wind roaring; once Dale even asked me if that sound might be from a train roaring through Strasburg about three miles away.

For several hours that night we lay awake watching the bright and scary sheet lightning, listening to the roaring of the wind, and hearing the rain that pelted the land outside our window. Good feeling to be safe from the storm, but sad as we talked about the tornadoes and terrible storms that others south of us had experienced earlier.

PInk peonies a bit worse for wear

Pink peonies, just a bit worse for wear

First thing in the morning I opened the front door to check on our so-beautiful-the-day-before flowers and bushes. The peonies, all of them, were drooping, still soaked with the rains that fell so heavily and blown over by the winds. The white peonies, the very first to bloom, had lost many of their flowers, petals scattered all over the lawn. The red variety weren’t as bad, but still hung heavy with moisture in their heavy blooms.

Droopy mock orange

Droopy mock orange

The mock orange bushes were bent much lower to the ground than they were yesterday. Many of the irises were flat down, their stems broken, and their flowers ripped apart during the night.

The “lake” in our driveway had grown again, and was about three feet across. Dale suggested sometime back that we should get a load of gravel to fill in that deep spot. Wonder how long that would last before we were having the same problem again! Oh well, maybe this will attract some ducks instead of just cardinals.

My shoes are too big!

My shoes are too big!

After working inside most of the morning, I just had to get out into the fresh air. By then the sun was shining, but the grass was so wet I couldn’t mow the front bank, so I decided to go out to check on the strawberries. I put on a very ancient pair of shoes, men’s, I think, that are about two sizes too big for me, ones I save to go out through the wet grass when I hang out the laundry in the early mornings. As it turned out, maybe I should have worn snowshoes!

Fresh strawberries

Fresh strawberries

Taking a one-gallon bucket, I picked the berries in the first row. Imagine that – the bucket was full! OK, back to the house I went, with my feet sloshing along, to get more buckets. The other two rows in that section were picked, and I started on the third batch of plants growing in a circle, instead of rows, because they were left over when we planted the new rows. When I picked there, I stepped on some of the berries in the center because my arms just weren’t long enough to do otherwise.

Stuck in the mud

Stuck in the mud

Now finally, the last three rows. Great! One foot forward in a heavy shoe, all caked with mud, and when I tried to lift the other, it stuck in the mud and wouldn’t move. Trying to step back into that now empty shoe, I just about slipped into the mud, but saved myself at the last. Now both shoes were stuck in the mud, so I bent over to pull one out; as I pulled on one, the other sank deeper. Now if I wrote about all of the movements, pulling, sinking, more pulling, and sinking and trying to keep myself from falling over, especially when the muckiest shoe finally came loose, it would take part of another blog, so I’ll just stop now and tell you that I finally made it back to the house with twelve quarts of berries.

That evening, down in the basement, I put the berries (some clean and some muddy) in the sink, sprayed off the dirt, and began to cut off the ends. Enjoyed a beautiful medley of classical music on tape (yes; I still have a cassette player) all the time I was working. Dale cut up the berries in a huge stainless steel bowl, in went the sugar, and then not long afterward, I had filled enough plastic storage containers to make 10 quarts. Into the freezer they went, and will provide a taste of spring in the winter when the snow covers the strawberry bed. – CHRIS

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