From the earliest, I knew my grandmother loved strawberries. I was never able to meet her, as she died of cancer two years before I was born. What I know of her I know through stories, artifacts, and strawberries.
She left many behind, almost too many to count. And so beautiful! Hellebores blooming in the winter, springtime pepper and salt covering the soft floor of the forest her stone-laden footpaths weaved through, down into a valley where a foot bridge crosses a brook, taking those who venture past into endless wood. For every stinging nettle, a crushed jewelweed stem offered respite.
Paths, vistas, honeysuckle, pink ladies, and a large half-moon of herbs lay in the center like a sundial. A glass brick inscribed MRB, chess sets and mobiles, bud vases of all description, ancient pre-Columbian tapestries, box upon box of postcards, weathered pressure cookers, a well-loved chinois, countless cookbooks… All of these and more mark her quiddity, proof of her vibrancy and passions.
And, of course, there are her words, inscribed in many books, conveying wisdom many have found comfort in. Not the flashy kind—not the type that offers a spiritual balm or some half-grasped picture of what lies in store for us. Her wisdom was more of the strawberry kind: of this world, for this world… revelatory in the most practical and delicious of ways.
Let me share with you one of the simplest and rewarding bits of wisdom Marion has given me:
Find ripe strawberries,
dip them in sour cream,
coat them in dark brown sugar.
My mother passed this ritual along when I was still a little boy. Strawberries would take over the front walkway of our house, and we would gather them—tiny as they were—and savor them in this way on hot summer days. She would tell me: “You know, your grandmother Marion was allergic to strawberries, but she loved them so much dipped this way, that she would endure her reaction to eat them.”
To this day I am grateful to her, and Marion, for so many things—from my very being to the love and support they continue to give… but strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar is the first thing I remember being passed down from Marion through my mother.
Share this wisdom with someone you love. Happy Mother’s Day!