Friday, May 8, 2020

There's nothing like fresh strawberries

I’ve never been successful at growing one of my favorite foods—strawberries—but I plan to keep on trying. There can be little better than plucking a ripe, red, berry and popping it into your mouth. Maybe the only thing better is to have a freezer full of them. To take a bag of berries out of the freezer around December or January might just raise the bar on the happiness quotient.

This year, as in past years, I’ve had to rely on others to raise strawberries I can purchase.
strawberry huller tool

This was the week I was able to buy a few pounds of berries.
When I set out to clean my berries, I went to my favorite gadget drawer to pull out a tool I bought last year but didn’t really use much. In fact, I had almost forgotten that I had it. I’m so glad I remembered, because this tool made preparing my berries for the freezer. This usually tedious chore was a snap with this tool. I’m not sure where I purchased it, but of course, it is available at Amazon. Pictured at right is my strawberry huller tool. It doesn’t look like much, but it is a wonder.

The tool fits comfortably between your fingers. By pushing the green button, the metal prongs open and close. To remove the hull of a strawberry, simply open the prongs, push into the berry, twist, and remove. It is that simple.
hulling strawberries

A little sugar sprinkled on to help them macerate and these beautiful berries are ready to eat. I’m just thrilled to have fresh berries at my fingertips once again.

Processing them was so easy with this tool. I highly recommend it to anyone, whether hulling one small basket of berries or a large quantity. This sturdy little tool is up for the job. 

ready to eat strawberries

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Earth Day is my favorite day of the year

Happy Earth Day

Mother Earth was kind enough to give presents -- a gentle rain shower that turned our Arkansas back yard into a rain forest. The sun is shining now. Like all females, Mother Earth is prone to changing her mind. As I look out the window into the woods, droplets of rain on the still new leaves sparkle as the warm sun caresses them. The landscape shimmers as if dressed in sequins. Thank you Mother Earth. The effect is spectacular.

Forty years ago on this day, I experienced a kind of environmental awakening that has forever changed how I see and think about things. This new kind of spirituality inspires deeper thought, a kind of peripheral vision that takes in new dimensions, and a sense of connection to all living things.

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe," said John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, who was born on this day.

That quote has been my favorite since I first heard it. Connections are not always clear. Sometimes they are difficult to discern, but we must not be blinded by the obvious.

On that day so long ago, I walked with a group of other nature lovers along a trail. It was a time when "Save the Earth" was a popular slogan. I was disturbed about oil spills, killing dolphins in tuna nets, too much plastic that never degrades, landfills overflowing with trash that could be recycled into useful products, and the very future of the only planet we can call home. But as I walked the trail, in the forest remnant that had been largely untouched since it was carved out by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years ago, I realized that humans aren't able to save the earth any more than they can affect it. Mother Earth will save herself, even if it is at our expense. I fear for humans who totally miss the point. The only thing that man's work will destroy is man.

I'm saddened that little has been accomplished in the past 20 years. And I am frustrated -- no angry -- at recent political attempts to reverse protections of the environment.

Even though I'm unhappy that there must be legal efforts to thwart man's destructive behavior against himself, it is too important not to be supportive since not everybody gets it. My hope for the environmental future of mankind is that more people realize the connections. 

...reprinted from 2010 but as relevant today as it was then

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Could this be Spring?

The temperatures have warmed to more than 70ยบ during the daylight hours. The sky is the most beautiful shade of blue. Even the sky blue crayon can’t capture this color. It is indescribable. 

Upon waking, I recognize a new tone in the way the birds sing. It is different than it was just a few weeks ago. The buds on the Magnolia tree in the front yard have not just begun to swell, but to show color. And in some cases, they are in various phases of flower. As each day warms, there are more flowers. Soon, the tree will be in all its glory. It rarely lasts long. There is usually a heavy rain, windy day, or killing frost that stifles the spectacle,
but seeing this tree in bloom is a joy to behold.

Pear trees throughout the area now show signs of flowering as well. Soon there will be Redbuds, Dogwoods, and a variety of beautiful fruit trees showing off their colors. Daffodils are beginning to show up, bringing the color of sunshine to the muted landscape. This time of year is well worth the wait through a long and often times hard winter. We were quite fortunate this year. Here in my part of the Ozarks, there was no measurable snowfall. In fact, I only saw snow flurries once or twice. The wood stove barely got warmed up.

Outdoor changes are not the only ones taking place. I’ve noticed my own internal clock is adjusting. I feel more energy, a need to tidy things around the house, a desire to rearrange furniture and clean in places that haven’t been seen in a year. It is almost like I am programmed to notice things I hadn’t cared about for previous months. I want to wash the windows. It is like a frenzy to get my own nest in order. Normally mundane chores are not drudgery, but take on a kind of exuberance. And there is music.

Like the nesting birds, for me, there must be music.

I’m not crazy about today’s music, so I listen to the tunes that have marked so many life experiences. Music is so transformative. Daily activities are always better when there is music. While my hands perform cleaning tasks, my mind relates to the music I hear. So many memories…they all come flooding back. Nostalgia is not a wish to return to the past; it is a pleasant experience of joyful remembrance.

Happy Spring!