A Seasonal Collection: Strawberries

“Sometimes they took a lunch with them and went berrying–strawberries and blueberries. How pretty blueberries were–the dainty green of the unripe berries, the glossy pinks and scarlets of the half ripes, the misty blue of the fully matured! And Valancy learned the real flavour of the strawberry in its highest perfection. There was a certain sunlit dell on the banks of Mistawis along which white birches grew on one side and on the other still, changeless ranks of young spruces. There were long grasses at the roots of the birches, combed down by the winds and wet with morning dew late into the afternoons. Here they found berries that might have graced the banquets of Lucullus, great ambrosial sweetnesses hanging like rubies to long, rosy stalks. They lifted them by the stalk and ate them from it, uncrushed and virgin, tasting each berry by itself with all its wild fragrance ensphered therein. When Valancy carried any of these berries home that elusive essence escaped and they became nothing more than the common berries of the market-place–very kitchenly good indeed, but not as they would have been, eaten in their birch dell until her fingers were stained as pink as Aurora’s eyelids.”

From ‘The Blue Castle’ by L M Montgomery

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From 'Allen's Book of Berries'

From ‘Allen’s Book of Berries’

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There were never strawberries
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory
lean back again
let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates

‘Strawberries’ by Edwin Morgan

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Strawberry and Elderflower Sorbet

1 pound organic strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 16 oz when pureed)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup elderflower cordial
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as the sugar has dissolved and set aside to let it cool to room temperature. In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries with lemon juice. Add the cooled syrup to the strawberry puree and blend again for a minute. Stir in the elderflower cordial until thoroughly mixed. Pour the strawberry mixture into an ice cream machine and churn till frozen according to manufacturer’s instructions. The sorbet is best served immediately or can be kept in the freezer for up to 5 days.

From Beyond Sweet and Savoury

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‘Strawberry Bed’ by Eric Ravilious

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“Mrs. Elton, in all her apparatus of happiness, her large bonnet and her basket, was very ready to lead the way in gathering, accepting, or talking — strawberries, and only strawberries, could now be thought or spoken of. — “The best fruit in England — every body’s favourite — always wholesome. These the finest beds and finest sorts. — Delightful to gather for one’s self — the only way of really enjoying them. Morning decidedly the best time — never tired — every sort good — hautboy infinitely superior — no comparison — the others hardly eatable — hautboys very scarce — Chili preferred — white wood finest flavour of all — price of strawberries in London — abundance about Bristol — Maple Grove — cultivation — beds when to be renewed — gardeners thinking exactly different — no general rule — gardeners never to be put out of their way — delicious fruit — only too rich to be eaten much of — inferior to cherries — currants more refreshing — only objection to gathering strawberries the stooping — glaring sun — tired to death — could bear it no longer — must go and sit in the shade.”

From ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen

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This 1830s day dress is made of challis printed with a realistic design of wild strawberries, bamboo, pinks and anemones. In the nineteenth century a fascination with flowers in printed textile design was nothing new, but during the 1830s it received a new impetus. Technical improvements to the printing process and advances in dye chemistry meant that floral prints could be mass-produced at low prices, and the repeal of excise duty on printed textiles in 1831 helped to reduce costs. Inspiration for floral designs came from a variety of sources, including botanical engravings, pattern books and plants grown in gardens and conservatories.

From V&A Collections

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“I told Helen my story and she went home and cried. In the evening her husband came to see me and brought some strawberries; he mended my bicycle, too, and was kind, but he needn’t have been, because it all happened eight years ago, and I’m not unhappy now. I hardly dare admit it, even touching wood, but I’m so happy that when I wake in the morning I can’t believe it’s true.”

The first words of ‘Our Spoons Came from Woolworths’ by Barbara Comyns

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Strawberries Bella and Ida at the Table by Marc Chagall

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“Tess wished to abridge her visit as much as possible; but the young man was pressing, and she consented to accompany him.  He conducted her about the lawns, and flower-beds, and conservatories; and thence to the fruit-garden and greenhouses, where he asked her if she liked strawberries.

“Yes,” said Tess, “when they come.”

“They are already here.”  D’Urberville began gathering specimens of the fruit for her, handing them back to her as he stooped; and, presently, selecting a specially fine product of the “British Queen” variety, he stood up and held it by the stem to her mouth.

“No–no!” she said quickly, putting her fingers between his hand and her lips.  “I would rather take it in my own hand.”

“Nonsense!” he insisted; and in a slight distress she parted her lips and took it in.

They had spent some time wandering desultorily thus, Tess eating in a half-pleased, half-reluctant state whatever d’Urberville offered her.  When she could consume no more of the strawberries he filled her little basket with them; and then the two passed round to the rose-trees, whence he gathered blossoms and gave her to put in her bosom. She obeyed like one in a dream, and when she could affix no more he himself tucked a bud or two into her hat, and heaped her basket with others in the prodigality of his bounty.”

From ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy

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‘Strawberries Railway’ by Jacek Yerka

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“For need can blossom into all the compensations it requires. To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savours of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know anything so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing – the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one’s hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again. Though we dream and hardly know it, longing, like an angel, fosters us, smooths our hair, and brings us wild strawberries.”

From ‘Housekeeping’ by Marilynne Robinson

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26 thoughts on “A Seasonal Collection: Strawberries

  1. I do love your seasonal selections, Jane. A lovely collection of passages and images, as ever – nice to see Emma and Tess in the mix. Thank you!


  2. The dress! And the Ravilious! I just hope that you get as much pleasure from putting these collectios together as we get from reading them!


  3. I had strawberries for breakfast and now I’ve had these magnificent strawberries for lunch. Wonderful!


  4. Thank you so much for this delightful post. I especially liked the dress and the video of Picasso’s work set to “Strawberry Fields Forever ” and “Strawberries Railway.”


  5. Love this post! We have strawberries growing in our yard and I’ve been making strawberry jam, and strawberry vanilla pancakes, and strawberry pies. So this post fit my week perfectly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, what a wonderful post celebrating strawberries – and yes, I’m another reader who immediately went scurrying off to buy (and eat) strawberries!


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