We picked 62 quarts of strawberries, my cousins and me. Early summer, hot day. Scrambling through the bee-buzzed fields in central Michigan, we plucked and nibbled and stuffed shopping bags and splintery wooden boxes with luscious red berries oozing juice. We didn’t know we’d picked too many for one family to easily consume. We just ran rampant and kept on picking, berry after berry until our little fingers were stained marvelous red, and our noses and arms were freckled from the bright midday sun.
My Aunt Karin was remarkably good-natured as she paid for our haul and promised us there would be strawberry pie after dinner. Later, we abandoned her in her kitchen, surrounded by mountains of fresh berries requiring washing, cleaning, cooking and storing, while we ran off to play Lone Ranger and Tonto in the backyard.
Of course, none of us dared complain when we were served strawberry pie for dessert, strawberry pancakes for breakfast and strawberry jam with our peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. We ate those berries and smiled thank you through strawberry-stained teeth.
Always say thank you — even if you can’t stand to take another taste.