What does the summer smell like? Undoubtedly, everybody has it own summer flavor: for somebody it smells like an ocean and beach, for somebody it’s a bonfire on warm nights, savory barbeque at the backyard or mowed meadows and wildflowers ….so many different flavors, so many associations… My summer smells like strawberries. I live in America for almost six years and got spoiled by the variety of produce all year round. I can afford to buy strawberries whenever I have cravings for them, but every time I pick up this rich and luscious berry I remember my childhood – time, when strawberries were the sweet and generous gift of summer.
In those days to get strawberries at any time other than the summer was impossible, so we desperately and patiently waited when the time comes. Usually, we spent our summer vacations at grandma’s, in her big old country house, where among all the variety of her generous garden were lurking the most desirable beds with strawberries.
I still remember that feeling of impatient expectation, with which, not even having been fully awake, we ran every morning to check, whether the first berries appeared or not. And so was going on and on, day by day, until one morning, having come running to familiar beds, we finally found what we had been waiting for for so long. It happened like a miracle, so predictable, but still unexpected, just over one night – there was nothing there yesterday, and now – here it was – these luxurious strawberry splendor. This first morning harvest was the most coveted and sweet. We approached closer, and, before ripping the very first berry, inhaled that unique aroma of fresh strawberries. This charm lasted only for a few seconds and then we, dozy and hungry, pounced on the strawberries, greedily stuffing heavy juicy berries into the mouth. And in couple weeks, when we finally had a good load up with fresh berries, grandma came to the garden.
We helped her picking up strawberries and then caring heavy fragrant buckets to the house, where grandma began her ordinances for making the most delicious strawberry jam. As a reward for our help, we were allowed to collect sweet foam from the top of the gurgling jam. Have you ever tried this sweet strawberry foam? Have you ever tried it on top of a loaf of a home made bread with fresh farm milk? Believe me, there was nothing more delicious and flavorful. And that was our bliss, our sweet strawberry happiness. And then strawberries gradually disappeared, and together with them ended the summer. And mom took us together with strawberry jam jar’s back to the city.
There she hid the jars somewhere on the top shelves of the pantry, where they remained until cold winter evenings came to the town. Only then mom opened them up, filling the house with summer odors, and we all enjoyed hot tea with strawberry jam. It was delicious, warm, cozy…. Many years has gone since then. I am not a child any more, my grandma passed away long time ago and I have my own child. But every time, when I put a sweet red berry into my son’s mouth, I feel sad and melancholy notes in my heart, that in his world of abundance and availability, he will hardly ever feel great overwhelming happiness from such a minor thing as a strawberry; I feel sad that those strawberry summers will never happen in his life.