By Ken DeLaat
Monday while eastward bound on 48th street and having just left our western metropolis Fremont enroute to the county seat my thoughts were wandering a bit while maintaining a sense of vigilance should an errant shoe appear alongside the road.
There was the Tiger game of the previous day, the first in what hopes to be a multitude of baseball games attended with Ms. Harper a treasured friend and the youngest of the four most intelligent attractive and downright likeable grandchildren one could possibly hope for.
H. took in the game like any 3 year old might since a major league game is a feast for a limited attention span with things going on in so many places that the action on the field remains considerably secondary.
I had just left the monthly Ag Legislative Breakfast so my mind moved on to consider some of the information being delivered by our elected officials. Geoff Hansen will be leaving the Senate due to term limits and Scott VanSingel is in the second year of his first term in the House so there seemed to be a bit of a ‘changing of the guard’ flavor to the meeting with a new electee to begin occupying Geoff’s seat at the monthly breakfast as well as his spot in the Senate come January.
I was in the process of meandering to some thoughts about a few N3 articles in the works when I saw the sign going up on the corner.
I was cruising along (at 55 of course because that’s the limit and all) and when the sign appeared it took a second or two for the concept to sink in.
I immediately slowed down and turned around at the first opportunity. If my memory was correct this would be Ida Mae’s Berries a venue that has been one of the more regular market stops since our first discovery a few years ago.
I whipped down the ¾ mile (going 45 mph because that was the limit) pulled into the driveway, parked and approached the stand with a bit of trepidation.
You see, Ida Mae’s stand is located in a spot that makes you unable to see if indeed there are still goods remaining because once they’re gone…..
This leads to a dollop of suspense even after arrival.
Once the stand was front and center I saw them. Tucked into the shade of the stand were bright red beauties just begging to be taken home and eaten with yogurt,cereal, fruit bowls and the undeniably epic dish known as strawberry shortcake. Two left and I wanted them bad.
A search of my wallet produced credit cards (no good here), a fin and a couple of 20’s. So I needed change.
Unfortunately a knock at the door produced no answer (I believe it was the proprietor putting up the sign back on 48th) so the dilemma was to either settle for one quart (inconceivable) or see if I could rustle up another three bucks.
I recalled having kept a cache with some quarters for parking meters stored during a road trip with LSC Lil awhile back and a thorough search located it underneath a sheath of business cards which were underneath a notebook that had a baseball glove and a couple of pairs of socks on it. The tray yielded $2.25.
I scraped under the seats and came up with two nickels three pennies and a dime so I was 52 cents short. I considered a rehunt under the seats when I recalled getting change from a drive through and dropping it into the cupholder before placing my coffee atop it. Three quarters were part of the booty so now they filled in the gap nicely and with 8 bucks gathered I dropped the cash into the box and sped off (doing well under the speed limit).
That night was shortcake night and it was heavenly.
The early berries are always just a bit tart (personal preference) but they are unmistakably Michigan berries. Throughout the winter, enticing looking berries from those warmer states inhabited by fair weather fans have found their way into our home and on our table. They look and taste somewhat like the real thing until the home grown gems are sampled (like maybe half a quart on the way home). Then the taste buds speak loudly and clearly.
"Make no mistake, this is the real deal, clearly superior in every way, and fiercely regional strawberry. There are no substitutes."
This is the beginning of the wondrous stretch when one becomes struck by the realization regarding the good fortune we bi-peninsular types enjoy in living where we do.
Our region is drop dead gorgeous, we have abundant water to play in, the people hereabouts are convivial for the most part and the locally grown food is exceptional as evidenced by our recent foray into asparagus (get the deep fried at Daniel’s) rhubarb (love it in a crisp) and the aforementioned and highly treasured strawberries (already returned for five more quarts).
And don’t even get me started on corn.
"I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer - its dust and lowering skies."- Toni Morrison
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