If you’re reading this, you probably know I grew up in rural, rural Eastern North Carolina. Living in the country meant our water came from a well and unlike “Little House on the Prairie” and the Dear Liza song, our well was serviced by a pump. We had what I grew up calling a pump house, a little structure that mimicked the design of our home, surrounding the pump...a pump house. My mom planted a strawberry patch around it sometime shortly after I was born because I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there. She will probably argue with me when I say this, but I watered, weeded, and picked that little strawberry patch for several springs growing up. I knew the petite white blooms would eventually mean sweet floral berries and I checked patiently for them to turn red...all the way red. When the berries were just right, I picked them carefully, took them straight inside, topped and washed them over the sink and went to crushing with my mom’s collard chopper.  

My mom is a tough and resourceful lady. She has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis since age 17, has had two shoulder replacements, numerous other surgeries on her hands and feet and has never taken anything other than Ibuprofen for pain. Using a knife to do work like slicing strawberries was very hard for her, so the collard chopper was a tool we used in excess in the Howard kitchen. Those strawberries may not have been pretty, but after I gave them a good dousing in sugar and let them sit for the minimum amount of time it took the juice to leech out, they were wonderful! 

I’m sorry to disappoint and tell you that we did not spoon my sugared strawberries over freshly baked biscuits and top them with hand-whipped, vanilla sweetened cream. No, we scooped the muddled, delicious mess onto a tasty cake, with a hole in the center, from the IGA and crowned the whole thing with Cool Whip. I knew no different at the time and could not have imagined anything better. I’m having a hard time imagining an experience to top it now.