Yes, I said the b word. Sorry.
But there’s no better way to illustrate how much fun Bug and I had on yet another trip out to Swanton Berry Farms in Davenport, CA for our annual late spring U-pick celebration of strawberry bountifulness.
What a charming little place; perched on a high plain at the edge of the Pacific, it was the perfect spot to escape the 90 degree day that was predicted for us last Friday. It’s always so much cooler there. The blasting ocean wind required a warm wooly hat–for me anyway…with all those curls, Bug has built in ear protection–and the bright sun required big dark sunglasses. Don’t I look silly? And layers were necessary, since we’d be driving back home to the warmth of the valley, after all.
Still, I suppose I wasn’t thinking when I selected that white top. On the other hand, the big blot of strawberry juice on the front of my shirt perfectly illustrates how great the picking was this year. It was like a treasure hunt, with some of the very best berries hidden away under broad leaves at the tops of their raised mounds.
As a midwestern girl, the way they grow strawberries here along the ocean always intrigues me: long rows of 2-foot-high mounds filled with sandy dark soil, all covered by blankets of black plastic to keep the roots of the little plants happy and toasty. And believe it, the sun over the open field really heats up those rows. Just placing my hand on the side of the mound to help steady myself as I crossed over the row, I could feel how warm it must be inside those cozy little beds.
Because of this TLC, the strawberries were amazing. And at some point, as the two of us crept through the rows, picking, lost in thought, breathing the intoxicating scent of warm strawberries on a cold ocean wind, we realized the heavy boxes we clutched so tight to our chests (or in my case, boobs), were just not going to hold one more berry. Indeed, there were berries falling out onto the ground, those boxes were so full.
Which is why I had “strawberry boobs.”
Anyway, at that point it was time to go inside the adorable farm stand and pay for our berries. It always blows my mind that everyone pays on the honor system there.
And after a quick stop in Pescadero to pick up a delicious sandwich and couple of loves of Artichoke Garlic Focaccia at Arcangeli Grocery (thank goodness you can only get this amazing, addictive bread there or online…I made the most amazing crostini out of it for appetizers the next night, but I digress), and some delicious tree-ripened organic plums and fresh corn from another local farm stand, we made our way back over the hills to our hot little house.
And after yet another day covered in strawberries, I now have a pantry once again full of jewel-colored jars brimming with fresh jam, and a freezer full of strawberries for smoothies, or even another batch of jam (here’s a great recipe and website for recipes and how-tos of making jam–especially the low sugar version I make). Yeah, it’s a little work, a little mess, but believe me, opening a sunny jar of strawberry jam on a stormy winter day is well worth suffering through a strawberry boob. 😉