• Carmen Marie Fabio

Summer blues


Heading back to the car after a hike on a recent excursion to Mont Tremblant, two of my boys encountered wild strawberries growing along the footpath.

“Can you eat them?” they asked my husband, still not completely free of their feral, urban mindset.

“Of course,” he answered as one proceeded to help himself to the small, round, red berries whilst the other opted to abstain, apparently not trusting them.

I'm jealous I missed the treasure trove as I know that wild strawberries, though significantly smaller than their farmed counterparts, offer a sweetness and depth of flavour that exemplifies summer. And even more so knowing that my own strawberry crop has been a disappointment for the past four years.

Thinking we'd fool Mother Nature and keep the birds from stealing our bounty, we built a cage around the 6x6-foot plot only to find the crop diminished substantially. Turns out there's a dearth of honeybees in our area to pollinate the blooms and the bumblebees are too fat to fit through the wire mesh.

Thankfully, the local crops are ripe for the picking (even if it's from the grocery store shelves) and I've learned a lesson about trying to mess with nature.

The topic of strawberries elicited reminiscence from our office manager who recounted overdosing on the coveted fruit as a seven-year-old while ‘helping’ his aunt harvest the ripe crop. “Two went in my mouth for every berry in the basket,” he said. Simple mathematics will dictate the predictable outcome and although it wasn’t pretty, it hasn’t turned him off strawberries.

By contrast, it took me years to consume another blueberry after my father once got a good deal on four bushels of the seemingly innocuous little blue balls, some of which he used to make a batch of blueberry wine.

For an entire blue summer, my childhood was punctuated with blueberry waffles, blueberry pie, blueberry muffins, blueberry preserves, and blueberry jam. I was, however, too young to benefit from the blueberry wine. I put blueberries on my Alpha-Bits which is another food I will no longer eat given a separate childhood overdose component.

I often joke that I’m alive today because of Kraft Dinner as it got me through my first degree and successfully completed grad school with half a case of instant ramen still left over. And though these cheap, ubiquitous carbs are synonymous with poverty, I haven’t gone completely off them yet.

A friend of mine went through an almost unimaginable saturation point with pizza after her brother scored a job at a pizza parlour and brought home leftovers on a daily basis.

And in what must be more than coincidence, it was revealed that three of us in the same office will never again consume white rum for reasons that all had the same ending that involved vows sworn to the porcelain gods of adolescence.

I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming raspberry season, a fruit for which I personally have no saturation point, but as for blueberries, no. Never again.