Monday, June 25, 2007

At the end of the day

Each boy required a two-pint container of his own, green recycled something-or-other cardboard, for strawberry picking.

We had planned to go Saturday, but the skies were threatening and it was a bit on the cool side. Sunday surprised me, with warmer than forecast temperatures and rich, blue skies. No forecast for rain, as originally thought. After church, our traditional pancake lunch, and rest time, we loaded up the Odyssey.

Karen bought herself and me an iced coffee from The Sweetest Thing in the Hamilton Shopping Plaza, even though her first preference was to drive down to Starbucks. That, I argued, would have taken us an additional twenty minutes out of the way, and given that Dunkin Donuts is closed while moving locations within the shopping plaza, Sweetest Thing was our best alternative.

The boys were happy. Of course, Dad forgot to sunscreen Teak as well as bring along “taggie” (his blanket) and “Stripey” (his tiger Webkins, which is all the rage among little kids). Thus, Dad heard a brief lecture from Mom on proper preparation for family outings – “You know taggie and stripey calm him down....” He had heard this lecture before. Many times. Each time, he failed to take class notes. He was destined to repeat the class for eternity, or so it seemed, like one of those dreams where you are always taking your Chemistry 101 final without having studied.

I took a long draw on my iced coffee and said, “OK. Let’s hit it.”

We drove the back way to I-95, through Bradley Palmer State Park, where the posted 25 MPH speed limit road winds and rises and dips, enough to make me want to skateboard it sometime, or at least imagine that at 44 I could still dust off the longboard and get out there to go downhill fast. As I drive and wind and do maybe a little over 35, I imagine doing it on a skateboard, with a camera fixed on my helmet or perhaps followed by a chase car with the passenger holding a camera out the window and taking a video of this beautiful road and then posting the video on this blog. And then I think, “Nah, too much video posted on websites, not enough copy.” This is a convenient ruse to cover up the fact that I am actually afraid of flying out of control on my board and eating it, leaving behind most of my elbow and knee skin. It is a delightful sensation nonetheless, feeling that I could skate it if I wanted to, and backed up by three boys who would probably consider me a hero for doing it.

Cider Hill Farm is in Amesbury, which charmingly has an old mill in its downtown, a number of shops and restaurants and a rotary that makes its other roads feel like loose spokes, giving it an Old World milieu. I recall coming here in 1999 looking for a place to live before we ended up in Manchester-by-the-Sea, and K does as well. The farm is about a mile outside of town, though, and as we pull off to the right onto the property, we see maybe ten people at most in the strawberry patch, stooping over and searching. This is a good sign, I tell myself, not really knowing, truth be told, whether ten bodies is a lot for the 100-yard long, 25-foot wide patch or whether it can withstand more capacity, especially three small bodies with my last name.

We have a pep talk in the car about manners, loudness, and internecine cooperation, and then head to the store to get details on picking.

Last night I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie, and K and I each had a slice with a scoop of Brigham’s vanilla ice cream on top. I had asked the boys to contribute four strawberries apiece to the pie so we’d have enough. Carter, usually compliant, willingly found four nice ones from his container. Bennett reluctantly offered two. Teak was busy downstairs in the playroom, so his strawberries were conscripted.

photo: anker1922


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Doesn't your idyllic country life astound you? It's hard to believe that someone born and raised in Manhattan is picking strawberries with his wife and kids and making strawberry rhubarb pie.

endangered coffee said...

Good stuff, Dootz. I'm looking forward to the day I can take Baby Boy EC apple picking, myself.