If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. ~Conan O’Brien
Saturday morning, we got up early to head out to Pollock’s family farm in Brush Valley to pick, none other than fresh strawberries! It was about a half an hour to forty-five minute journey to our sun ripened destination.
Why? Well, besides having seriously fresh strawberries, it was a unique activity for Kyle to partake in. Not many kids ever get to see strawberry fields, let alone sit among the rows of sweet goodness to pick them ripe off of the vine. It was a good experience.
At first it was fun and exciting. We got up there early to avoid sitting in the hot sun, which none of us are fans. Then, the merriment really began when we got our baskets and were led to a strawberry row, followed by instructions. What kind of instructions? We were to start at the top of the row, work our way down and pick half of the row on either side. When finished, no matter if the entire line was harvested or not, we were to move our flag to the completion of our efforts. Pretty easy. Kyle looked on with anticipation, at least at first.
Kyle was sandwiched between mom and me. Naturally, he was in the row beside me, while Mike was on my other side, surrounding me by those I knew. Even better!
I’m guessing about five small strawberry plants down, Kyle informs me that I needed to pick his entire row because he was focusing on one. The one him and his Gigi shared. Ok buddy, whatever works for you. This I was expecting to be honest. No worries, I still picked half of my row by Mike and the entire row closest to Kyle. Sitting on my knees, I scooted down with every pass getting into a rhythm.
Before long, my basket was full and I had Kyle run to get me another so I could finish my section. By then, mom had long since ditched us. Her knees were bothering her and I’m sure the direct sun overhead didn’t help my sun sensitive mother either.
By the time I was on my second basket, Kyle was simply going through the motions, not really working. In fact, I watched him as he picked a berry or two, waited for me to push my basket down the row, then followed suit. He was keeping up with me, just not the way I expected him to. I can’t really tell you how many times I heard, “Aunt Heather, it’s really hot out here.” or “Aunt Heather, I’m sweating. I don’t like to sweat.” Anyone who knows me, knows I too am not a fan of direct sunlight, nor heat and humidity, which all accompanied us on our trip. I shared my logic with Kyle and that was ‘The faster we work, the quicker we’ll be done and leave.’ Kyle still didn’t hold that goal near and dear to his heart, he was just plain done.
Soon I told Kyle, once he filled up his basket, he was done. I even started to throw some of the red berries I picked into his basket to help him out. What did Kyle do? Well, he certainly didn’t step it up. O NO! He started to look into my basket and criticize the berries I picked, mentioning if they weren’t fully ripe or too small etc. Yep, it took everything I had not to loose it on this pre-teen who should be able to match my energy and work efforts second for second. At the very least strawberry pound for strawberry pound.
Once we were done, we weighed our strawberries, paid and left. As we were standing at the car talking, down in the lower field was a coyote running at full speed. Then, it got me thinking, I wondered how the farmers were able to keep rabbits, deer and such out of the strawberry fields? I didn’t see any fence or natural obstruction. I never did ask, but now I’m even more curious than ever.
We did manage to take a detour to the local bait shop before going home, to pick up some bait for a Sunday fishing expedition on Loyalhanna Lake. It’s never a full weekend without the fishing poles making their appearance.
On a side note, while fishing on Sunday, dad snapped his fishing pole. He purchased it with his own hard earned money at nine years old. It was heartbreaking to see this fifty-five year old pole in pieces. It held a lot of memories and experience.
After we came home and settled in to our cozy air-conditioned environment, mom brought up a good point. She mentioned to Kyle how some people earn their living by doing the very same thing we did for forty-five minutes, all day long at least five to six times a week, for months at a time. They don’t pick for the luxury of fresh strawberries, but for minimum wage, to simply provide for their families. That’s hard work. Those are the people who appreciate their efforts the most.
I don’t believe anyone really knows what others go through unless the path is walked for them. I knew Kyle didn’t quite get the point, but then again there was a small part of me that knew he did. It’s not only good to have an appreciation for where your food source comes from, but also how it’s awarded. Buying groceries in the store certainly looses the origin and the hard effort it takes to deliver food to the table. Yes, it’s nice, but every once in a while, getting back to our roots is the way to maintain a sense of reality and appreciation for God’s land and people. At least that’s what I hope Kyle gained from this experience.