Strawberries are my favorite fruit. They have been a part of my life as long as I can remember.

fresh-strawberries-1813412_1280My grandparents had strawberries planted in their garden when we lived with them. One of my best memories was the strawberry shortcake my mother made. The baked pies my grandmother made were just as tasty.

Mother had me helping her pick the berries when I was three years old. The sun was hot, and after I picked all I wanted to eat I helped Mother fill the bucket. This was enough berry picking for me. I wanted to go to the house. Mother told me to stay and pile berries on top of our bucket while she returned to the house for an empty bucket.

I was angry at being left to work while she went to the house. I squashed several handfuls of berries in the bucket. Once my anger was vented I realized there would be consequences. This seemed like a good time to visit our neighbors who lived a half mile up the road.

I left quickly and was almost to the neighbor’s house when a tractor pulling a hay wagon pulled up. The driver was a farm hand. He knew I was not allowed out alone, so he picked me up and put me on the tractor with him.

We met Mother who was carrying a switch. The farm hand tried to intervene on my behalf but to no avail. Mother switched my legs as we walked back to the house.

The next year a berry patch was planted in a field about a quarter of a mile from my grandparent’s house. I was four years old and my sister Faye was two years old. Mother took us to help her pick berries. When we had the containers filled she left us there to take the berries home and get more containers.

Shortly after she disappeared from sight, Faye began to scream. I ran to her and saw a large black snake near her feet. I led her away from the snake and looked for something with which to kill the snake. My grandfather and father killed poisonous snakes but not the black ones. The snake was crawling away, so I picked up the biggest rock I could find and dropped it on top of the snake. This kept it from leaving. I found a stick and was pounding on the snake when a car pulled up.

The driver was Mr. Crawford, who sold McNess products in our area. He could not believe we had tackled a snake alone. He killed the snake and had us get in the car. Mr. Crawford returned us to the house.

These experiences did not dampen my love for lovely red strawberries.

CLICK HERE to find other stories and poems by Gaye Hoots.

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