Recently, I have been reading my grandmother’s history. She spent the last ten years writing down her memories of life, and she had it published for us this Christmas. She has been losing her eyesight over the past few years, and wanted to finish writing this book while she could still see. While the book follows a loose chronology of her life, I was intrigued to find that she mostly wrote in thematic chapters: Health & Hospitals, Family Traditions, Needles & Thread, A Few of My Favorite Things. Each chapter is a series of memories over the course of her life, organized into these somewhat silly, but sweet chapters.
It has made me think about the things I am writing down and recording about my life. One of the things that I love about writing down my thoughts is the way it helps memories to emerge. Symptomatic of my generation, I imagine the brain a bit like a computer typing a word into the search bar and then pulling up every memory that contains that word or concept. However, each search result is a walk down memory lane, sifting through what the TikTok generation (inspired by the Pixar movie Inside Out) has started talking about “core memories”. These are the memories of an event that you find has shaped your life in some way, it may not be about perfect recall, instead of the intensity of experience and feelings.
Inspired by my grandmother, I decided to pick a theme (but make it Heirloom Art Co.) and just see what core memories come out. This is the strawberry season and it just feels right to be a bit obsessed with these delectable and dazzling little fruits. While we have become accustomed to getting strawberries at any time of year, June is their month to shine. A strawberry picked in June is an experience for all the senses: a rich bright red to catch the eye, sweetly perfumed, plucked when perfectly plump, and that first delectable bite, flavorful and dripping with juice; if you didn’t guess already my theme is strawberries. I am intrigued to see if some of you have similar or shared memories about strawberries. If this gets you thinking about a delightful berry, please leave a comment at the bottom with your strawberry thoughts and memories of your own!
As a kid, one of our favorite summer activities was to host our lemonade stands. We quickly learned that strawberry lemonade (Country Time powder of course!) was the bestseller, especially if we cut up a few slices of real strawberries and lemons to include for a "deluxe cup". We would fill our wagon with table, posters, and drink coolers filled with strawberry lemonade and drag it all to the top of the street and set up shop. During the hours we spent on the street corner we rotated through a variety of jobs: poster-dancer, cashier, cup-filler, and fly-swatter. I am pretty sure we drank most of our own product, but we were always pleasantly surprised when we could split our earnings.
I remember one summer during my childhood eyeing a Smackers strawberry lip gloss, in a strawberry shaped container, while in the line at the grocery store. I coveted that strawberry lip balm: thinking it would make my lips just perfectly glossy and completely kissable. It was the first week of summer and my mom told me that she wouldn’t buy it for me. However, when we got home, she offered me the chance to do some extra chores to earn some money. Our next trip to the grocery store I purchased three strawberry lip glosses, because when you love something that much, you should always buy three.
One of my very favorite literary scenes from Jane Austen's Emma is the strawberry picking scene at Knightley’s Donwell Abbey. I find it is the perfect depiction of an idle summer; when a lovely idea is only enjoyable for a few moments before the summer heat becomes overwhelming, making everybody a bit irritable. I find myself relating so well to this experience of summer. I always want to do all of these wonderful things, like pick strawberries in a picturesque field with the perfect little berry basket, white dress, and straw hat. However, the "perfect" experience unfolds rarely, instead it is usurped by the blistering heat and irritable tempers, juice stains on the white dress, and all the other unexpected. But in the same breath, these chaotic moments become practically perfect memories that stay with me too.
In my family, strawberries were usually served with a slice of shortcake and whipped cream. And while I love a bit of strawberry shortcake, there is nothing quite like a bowl of just strawberries and cream. The summer I was dating my future husband, I was living in Scotland and he was in England. There were many visits back and forth between the two countries, but I remember distinctly being introduced to the English tradition of eating strawberries and cream while watching Wimbledon. The English way is so very simple, a bowl full of fresh strawberries drenched with fresh cream. My husband likes a sprinkle of sugar on the top, but I like it without. A winning combination.
The full moon in June has long been known in the farming circles as the strawberry moon. Often this moon will seem red in appearance, but it was actually named thusly as a result of the farmers who would stay up, picking their strawberries by the light of the full moon at the peak of the strawberry harvest. Last year, I started reading the farmer's almanac and learned about the history of the strawberry moon. As the full moon rose (this year it happens on June 14th), I convinced my husband to stay up late to watch the moon rise. We laid in the hammock and ate strawberries under the light of strawberry moon.
A few weeks ago, I wanted to get some photos of these adorable strawberry socks on real little feet. I asked my nieces to model them for me (they range in ages from 2-10 years old). Somewhere in the process of teaching them a sock dance (watch our instagram reels this week for the adorableness of a strawberry sock dance), the youngest decided it would be funny to “eat” the strawberries. So she started biting everybody’s strawberry clad toes. The evening promptly dissolved into a fit of belly laughs, and a few bruised toes, all around.
It's fascinating to see what memories are conjured up by a single word or thought. I would love to hear some your strawberry memories or be a part of helping you make some new ones! Stay up and enjoy the strawberry moon, look for a local farmer's field where you can pick your own, enjoy a bowl of strawberries and cream, make some strawberry lemonade or strawberry jam. Most of all, make memories and write them down.
If you want some strawberry memorabilia, find all of our strawberry favorites as part of our Midsummer collection.