By Dr. Sara Stefan, DC, CCWP, fCBP
June is Dairy Month. June mean mosquitos and might be what you think of as the start of summer. June probably conjures up a lot of ideas and musing for you. To me, June is my mom’s birthday that always coincides with strawberry season.
As a kid, every year we would pack up the cardboard strawberry flats, a bucket of warm, soapy water and a few rags and we’d pile into the car to drive to the local strawberry patch. It was the one time of year where going to Clintonville meant something special was happening. Even back then, my parents were insistent upon getting there as soon in the morning as possible. You know, you have to “beat the heat”. So we’d bumble down the road in our trusty minivan and jump out onto the grassy, uneven terrain of the field turned parking lot. From there we would scour the horizon until our eyes landed on the tractor pulling the wagon full of people. We would be crossing our fingers that it wasn’t too far away since we could barely contain the excitement and the idea of warm, sweet strawberry juice running down our chins. (My mom was smart. She came prepared with the aforementioned bucket of water for post-picking cleanup before piling back into the car in a strawberry induced haze.)
The tractor ride was one of the best parts. It would chug and jerk and if you weren’t paying attention, every once in a while it would feel like you were almost about to fall off. Or maybe that was just me – the scrawny little kid in a hand-me-down tee shirt and jelly shoes with just enough meat on my bones to keep me from bouncing up and off the trailer. Then, all at once, the driver would stop and everyone would scramble off in search of the worker who assigned you your row where you would begin your search for the world’s best strawberry. “Work from this flag, down. Take the flag with you and put it where you stop. Don’t leave any ripe berries and stay in your row”. I was a rule follower even back then so it was a simple nod of the head and get to work. If you pick strawberries like I do, you’ll pick for a few minutes, get a bit in your bucket and a sense that not everyone is watching you (especially the workers!) and you’d sneak your first berry. I can almost taste and feel that first fresh berry of the season on my tongue. Warm from the sun. So juicy you have to eat it all in one bite, and so sweet you realize that any other strawberry you’ve eaten in the last 6 months was nothing like this, not even comparable.
Fast forward 25 minutes or so and your feet are a little achy. Your back might be a little tight. And the sun shining down upon your back probably has you feeling more than a little warm, even though it’s only 8:30 in the morning. If you’re lucky, the berries that year are big, plump and the truest color of red you’ve seen in person. You pick around the leaves and find cluster upon cluster of berries and pretty soon, your flat is filling up. Mom looks over, sees what you have and declares, “I think we have enough.” You know what that means? That means fresh strawberry pie and homemade strawberry jam and fresh berries for every meal for the next three days. YES! It also means you better pick a few more and stuff them into your face before you put your stake in and head for the edges of the field.
Once you hop back on the tractor and get back to the farm house, it’s time to find out how much your strawberries weigh. Slide the box down and feel the cardboard grate against the well-worn wooden countertop. Who picked more? Mom gets out cash to pay the older woman who smells like my grandmas, and reality sets in. Strawberry picking is over and it’ll be a whole year before you get to do this same routine all over again….bummer.
The good thing is you still have all the fruits of your labor, literally. The other good thing is that year after year, this annual tradition becomes part of your DNA. You probably don’t realize it as it’s happening, but this is the sort of thing that fires you up while simultaneously calming you down. Every year now, when mid-June rolls around, I scope out the calendar and the weather to see what day I can get out and pick. It is exciting. And then when we start to pick, a sense of child-like wonder comes over me and time slows down a little bit (except for last year when we were racing to finish picking before a hellacious storm brewed not far in the distance. We did end up beating it. We pulled onto the highway just as it started to downpour. Not sure what all the folks out in the fields did or how they missed the thick, grey clouds rolling in).
It’s these types of memories and experiences that I want to leave with my kids. I need to realize that we might be setting our own, new traditions right now, and I don’t even realize it. What is happening today that might leave an indelible mark that they’ll never forget? I guess my point in telling you this long story about something so mundane as picking strawberries is best summed up in a quote by BJ Palmer, the developer of Chiropractic,: “We never know how far reaching something we may think, say or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.” We are obviously in the middle of an odd time right now. What isn’t always obvious, though, is that life is made up of series of memories and events. Cherish the moment right now and create positive, character building events. Start new traditions if you want or build upon the old, trusty ones. Either way, love the people around you, find the best in life, and live the life of your dreams.
Oh, and by the way, a cup of strawberries provides vitamin C, manganese and also contains folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. Strawberries are rich in antioxidants and plant compounds that may have benefits for heart health and blood sugar control, among many other benefits. Whatever you choose in this next season, make it impactful and fun. Create memories and friendships. And as always, stay healthy, my friends! Enjoy!