We went strawberry picking today. I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to take Violet with us, but neither Linda nor I had ever been strawberry picking before, and I knew without even having to ask that we both wanted Violet along for the experience. We brought along the chest carrier, figuring that it was a better option than the backpack. I could envision bending over to pick a strawberry and feeling her slide out of the backpack and over my head. With the chest carrier, she’d be front and center.
Violet was in a great mood, the day wasn’t too warm – things seemed good when we arrived. We expected to pick a lot – enough strawberries to get us through the year, once we got them back home and froze them – maybe twenty or thirty quarts. I was able to pick all of one quart before Violet decided she’d had enough. She didn’t like being low to the ground, unable to see anything, and she didn’t like me staying in one spot for so long. I tried singing, talking in a high voice, talking in a low voice, showing her the strawberries, tickling her – all while crouching among the strawberry plants. She wasn’t having it. She didn’t lose it, but I could tell she was getting annoyed with me.
So, Violet and I walked around, looking for good picking spots, and Linda did the picking. At one point, one of the teenage girls who works on the farm rode by on a horse, and Violet stared, her eyes fixed and following them until they were out of sight. As Linda handed me a quart of berries to empty into our basket, Violet reached out and grabbed a stalk of dock, her fingers clutching at the immature seed head. She wiggled her fingers on, through, and around the papery disks, and I stood still, wondering how long it would hold her interest. For more than a minute, she explored with her fingers, and then she tried to put it in her mouth and it was time to move on.
Fourteen quarts of strawberries later, as we carried our sweet haul up the dusty farm road to the stand to pay, I looked at Linda’s stained fingers, remembered her bad knees, and realized I probably should have offered to give Violet to Linda while I did the picking.