Some people cry over onions- I cry over strawberries.
In Florida, when I was really young, I'd raid the strawberry beds at home, and then later in the year, at Gram's garden. Mom always got cross because we were ruining our dinner and mashing berries on ourselves.
When we were older and "more responsible" (probably ought to be read as "less likely to eat everything we picked"), we were taken with Mom to the U-pick-em strawberry beds. Hours bent in the hot sun with no shade and no water, and ordered not to even taste the much larger berries. It was unbearable. I still shudder when I drive by these places. I'd rather stop at the stand and hand over a dollar more for the luxury of not bending over myself. My back hurts just thinking about it- and I reflexively reach for the sunscreen.
I knew I was considered adult when I could swap recipes with Mom and Gram. It's like my brother's reaction to his first powertool at Kissmoose- he announced with pride, "Now I know I'm a MAN." I still cannot taste strawberries and cream without Gram's wrinkled face drawn up to the side in her lopsided smile appearing to me. Or Mom's swearing about how we need to freeze these damn berries so we can have enough. We never canned fruit- we always froze it or made jam. I don't know why mom never canned things- it maybe due to Gram's necessary over-zealous canning.
I can't think of strawberries without thinking of Mom or Gram. I used Gram's bone handled paring knife and the mixing bowls from Mom to slice the quart of fresh berries and then cover them with sugar. My kitchen is a working museum. Grab a floating berry, cut off the bits of a different color and the top, slice, grab another one, leaving my mind to wander and my eyes fill with tears.
Strawberry flavoring is a different sort of hell for me though- We were given Strawberry Quick once, and it was new and different than plain milk (which none of us were really fond of). So it was decided by Mom that we kids would now drink nothing but Strawberry Quick mixed with instant milk. She reasoned it would not be likely to go bad, and we would not know it if it did. And it was a lot cheaper. We were forced to endure this for at least 8 years of my childhood. I still can't consider strawberry milk without gagging.
Dessert tonight will be strawberries and cream. I can't wait.