Wild strawberries are out! And if you can get to them before the birds and the bunnies and other small Nantucket mammals, then you are in for a delicious treat! They are TINY as you can see by the image but they are wonderfully delicious and so flavorful. You have to look hard as this strawberry grows extremely close to the ground and like other varieties has a trailing tendency in its growth. The leaves are small and at this time they have a few that turn red but keep your eyes peeled and you will be rewarded.
It makes me think about Maria Mitchell and her siblings as children and a group of them possibly rambling over the moors in the afternoon summer sun, picking berries that were ripe and eating them for lunch, or being sent out by Lydia Mitchell to gather whatever berries might be in fruit for a pie – it probably may have also been to get them out from underfoot! Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, elderberries, even cranberries in the marshy areas in the fall.
Today, it’s still a nice thing to do and rewarding. I found these strawberries as I was walking our dog. She was less than pleased as I took my time to pick and eat a few – needless to say, none made them back home for my husband to eat. Blackberries are out too – I collected a nice handful on my parents’ land this weekend, eating them as I walked with their dog. Now, I am closely watching the blueberries now, hoping I get to them before the birds. I now have two bushes of my own, but I still prefer to pick the wild blueberries. Given the winter and spring, I am hoping for big and flavorful ones. They work nicely for muffins and if you make several batches, you can eat fresh blueberry muffins all winter long. We used to pick low bush when I was young – my Mother, brother, and I with colanders or coffee cans with string through them to put around our necks - out in the moors in a secret spot that will not be revealed! If someone happened upon us and asked what we were doing, the response was usually, “Nothing,” as we did not want anyone to catch on. We worked quietly, eating a few, listening to the birds, avoiding poison ivy, and on a rare occasion emitting a short loud scream as a snake crossed our path – snakes are fine, just not when they surprise you. I still prefer low bush – a bit backbreaking, it would help if one were the size of the Tinies or the Borrowers – but still well worth it. And when you bite into a fresh, homemade blueberry muffin − and you picked the blueberries yourself – even better!