Those Were The Days

At $38/flat, Oregon strawberries are pure red gold!

Memorial Weekend Tradition

It’s a tradition in our family to have strawberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner for as long as the season lasts, which in Oregon, is only about 3 weeks…usually.

The winter of 2017 has been particularly wet. One hundred forty seven days of rain and the wettest rainy season on record, wrecking havoc on the strawberry ripening, let alone rotting. So I figure strawberry season could last about 1.5 weeks this year and that’s why it took three trips to various strawberry stands yesterday to finally find a resource, which is why they are AKA Red Gold

I bought an entire flat….can you say “freezer jam”….there’s no way we can eat that many berries before they are over-ripened. 

For decades we spent Memorial Weekend at my in-laws home on Grand Avenue over looking Monterey Bay in Capitola, California. The weather was always perfect at that time of the year. It was as if my mother-in-law had a magic weather wand for conjuring up the best weather possible.

What began as a celebration when my brother-in-law returned from serving in Viet Nam, grew into a “happening” as my husband was fond of saying. He was right….at least 3 dozen, mostly childless couples and singles from various parts of the USA showed up every Memorial Weekend to BBQ, beach-out, drink, laugh and catch up. 

Buying strawberries always reminds me of my mother-in-law. Every day during the Memorial week-end, she would go to the local fruit stand and buy two cartons of strawberries and prepare them so that we had fresh berries for cereal in the morning. I remember how pleased she was that we, and most especially he eldest son, whom she called ‘Random’, would ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ over those berries, delighting in every delectable bite. My mother-in-law was devoted to ‘her boys’.

This morning I was thinking about the last Memorial week-end spent with Peggy. She was living in an assisted living home. She had severe Alzheimer disease and my father-in-law was unable to any longer keep her safe in their home. Her ‘boys’ would bring her home to spend several hours together with us. My sister-in-law and I began supper and Peggy wanted to help. My sister-in-law whispered to me, “What shall we do? She isn’t able to use the stove.” I started to answer when my mother-in-law had a moment of clarity and said, “I hear you two whispering behind my back.” And I said, “Oops! You caught us!” and we all laughed. It was the last communication we shared with her and I treasure it. (BTW, we set an empty pot on the stove and handed her a wooden spoon and she happily stirred nothing while I made a salad.)

Santa Cruz Beach Volleyball

My husband and brother-in-law played in the very early days of the sand volleyball tournament held in Santa Cruz.

For me, Memorial Day is all about remembering and eating strawberries. Those were the days……


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