The dirt road was rocky and the Georgia air was exactly as you’d expect in late late Spring- hot and humid. Despite the dust and heat, my mom and I eagerly pulled the straw baskets out of the car as we began sizing-up the rows and rows of beautiful, red strawberries that were calling out to us from the fields.
If I’d only known eight years ago that picking those strawberries would quickly begin one of my favorite traditions!
I assumed our first year picking strawberries felt so special because we had just moved back to Georgia. (Oh, and also because Rayna’s curls were just getting long enough to put in pigtails!) The following years, however, proved to be JUST as memorable. Just when I thought Ross and Rayna were ‘the perfect age,’ the next year my nephew came along for even more memories. It was fun to mix things up on year five by adding a BABY to the adventure! By year SIX, we had FOUR active and excited kids to manage!
In an ironic turn of events, the very tradition that probably got it’s roots from Matthew traveling away from home each week (and my mom’s effort to make plans for us to spend time with one another) came to an abrupt stop when Matthew had the opportunity to stop traveling by us moving 12-hours from “home” and all of the memories that were built there.
The first two years in Arkansas, I felt sadness and jealousy as I watched my friends posting pictures on social media of that same strawberry patch that held so many of MY precious memories. But as I saw glimpses of local strawberry patches in Arkansas, I remembered a conversation a new friend recently shared. She spoke so fondly of her own mother and how much they enjoyed their time together before she moved away. Although she certainly misses seeing her each week, she and her mom agree that the move gave each one of them the opportunity and space to make memories with others, while treasuring even more the sweet memories they have together.
For two years I felt jealous and sad that I was “missing out” on something I use to love so much. This year though, even if it looked different, I wanted to give our strawberry picking tradition another try! With a little over 12 hours between two different strawberry fields, in a beautiful field in Fayettville, I found common ground.
I found smiles.
I found laughter.
I found beautiful strawberries.
I even found some new memories.