I found myself once more, alone in a strawberry field, picking strawberries. It’s my instinct to try and come up with a clever, witty pun like… ‘And there I was out standing in my field, my strawberry field… forever….’ but you’d have to be a Beatles fan to get that, so I won’t even attempt it.
June 24th was the first day of our CSA, and I was quite excited about getting things started, but it turned into a bit of a SNAFU. We always remind our members that for the first few weeks the boxes will be light, but I still want them to look as good as possible. To that end we start up the CSA season when our friend John Wise’s organic strawberries are ready. Beautiful brilliant red, organic strawberries with an amazing aroma definitely make a box of fresh organic produce pretty spectacular.
On the Sunday and Monday of that week all the forecasts called for rain overnight on Monday and then sunny skies on Tuesday morning, with the chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. So the game plan for Tuesday morning (CSA morning) was for Chelsea, our intern for the summer, and me to head to John’s first thing and pick strawberries while Michelle worked in the garden and got the lettuce and spinach and radishes ready to go. We had packed the garlic scapes the afternoon before because they last forever.
John doesn’t like us picking when it’s raining because it can spread disease in his strawberry patch.
So at 6:30 am on CSA morning, as I did my stretching exercises in preparation for my busy day, I listened to a steady, relentless, pouring rain, that had the sound of an “all day” rain. I had really hoped to provide our Napanee members with strawberries the first week. If I’d known that it was going to rain on Tuesday morning, I would have picked on Monday afternoon. They wouldn’t have been as fresh, but at least they’d be in the box. I regretted not having anticipated this possible scenario. If I couldn’t pick because of the rain, the first week boxes would be less than awesome. And so I had regrets.
Regrets are a funny thing. I used all the information I had at the time, and thought that based on what I knew I was making the best choice, but I was wrong. Nature/fate/a wild card had intervened and thrown a glitch into the matrix.
So how does one get over this whole ‘regret’ thing? In the big picture, this was a really a small thing. At the end of the season will any CSA member remember they didn’t get strawberries that first week? Probably not. In the big picture is this how I should be investing my limited emotional energy, freaking about not picking strawberries … yesterday? Nope, not a good use of my time on the planet. I want to do really well with the CSA this year, like most things I do, but I cannot control the rain and I have to accept this.
I think I need to learn to meditate better. Those Buddhist monks probably don’t regret the whole strawberry thing… or giving up a traditional life for one in a monastery… do they? Or maybe I need to learn to take deep breaths and just assume things will work out.
An hour later I spoke to John and he said he had a section of the field that he would be plowing under this year so he wasn’t concerned about diseases being spread. So we hustled and got all the vegetables ready to go by 10:30 am. I was in the berry patch by 11 a.m. and by 1:15 pm I had picked 40 quarts of strawberries. It was a new world picking record. By 1:30 pm I was settled up with John and by 2:30 I was in Napanee in my allotted pickup place with a truck full of strawberries that smelled heavenly. Things did work out. Michelle says they usually do and I need to start thinking this way.
As I pick berries my mind never shuts up. Is everyone’s brain like this and never shuts off? As is often the case my mind keeps asking me if this is the best use of my time and skills? I can write and publish books, I learned Final Cut Pro and can edit movies, I can use computers for electronic publishing and web design, heck I could probably get a job somewhere selling stuff. I’m good at that.
But then I ask myself; does the world need anymore people selling ‘stuff’? What the world does need is more people growing food at a smaller, sustainable, organic level. And that’s what I do. And I don’t have to commute to a city. I get to sit surrounded by green. And on the days that I pick berries I am surround by red. Brilliant, fragrant, strawberry red. I feel infinitely blessed to have 45 families that chose to be members of our CSA. I feel blessed to live in a place where I can work in a field and not worry about stepping on an abandoned land mine. I feel blessed to have the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair and no other human being in sight I try to imagine another place, any where in the world that I’d rather be, or another activity that I would rather be doing and that noisy, chatty, non-stop brain of mine simply can’t come up with anything.