Settling into Summer: Slowing Down with Strawberries and the Wisdom of Wendell Berry
“Time moves more slowly when you’re on the farm.”
-an observation by a visitor to our farm
Take a deep breath. The hustle of May is behind you, and before you are three glorious months of a surprisingly empty calendar. Inhale and exhale deeply again. Summer is here.
While during the school months we often find ourselves swept away by a relentless current of busyness, summer affords us an opportunity to be more intentional about how we fill our days. Amid the demands of work, family, and endless to-do lists, it's easy to overlook the simple joys that lie in our everyday experiences. We must not let that be true of our summer days.
Wendell Berry, a remarkable American poet, novelist, and farmer who farmed and wrote in Kentucky, offers us a profound reminder to slow down and savor the present, cultivate patience, and to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
With the arrival of strawberry season, let us gather our loved ones and delve into the enriching experience of harvesting these vibrant berries as we embrace the wisdom of Wendell Berry.
Embracing Stillness and Slowness
"Make a place to sit down. Sit down. Be quiet." - Wendell Berry
In a world of instant gratification and relentless distractions, the notion of slowing down may seem counterintuitive. Yet, Berry's words urge us to create space in our lives for stillness and contemplation. Picture this: a sun-kissed morning, a gentle breeze rustling through the strawberry plants, and the sweet aroma of ripe berries filling the air. As parents and caretakers juggling countless responsibilities, we often forget to pause and appreciate the beauty unfolding around us. Take time to do that when you visit us. As you pick berries, don’t just toss them in the box and move on to the next promising plant. Take the time to study a single strawberry: its shape, its size, its color, its sweet aroma. Then look up and take in the wide open space, the gentle hills of our fields, and the sweet voices of children interacting with their caretakers. Take it all in.
Before you leave, stop for a moment under the trees by our pond. Sip one of our signature sodas, or eat some of your berries before you get back in the car. Better yet, pack a picnic blanket and a picnic lunch. By connecting with nature and engaging in the process of harvesting strawberries, we can rediscover the enchantment of slowing down.
Planting Seeds of Patience
In our order-it-and-get-it-now world, patience has become a rare virtue. The process of growing strawberries, from planting the seeds to witnessing the first blush of red on the fruit, demands patience and nurturing. As parents, grandparents, and caretakers, we are intimately familiar with the metaphor of cultivating patience. But in the whirlwind of raising children, it's essential to remember that our own growth requires tending as well.
Berry reminds us, "It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are." As we kneel down in this shared experience together, gently lifting the strawberry plants to find the ripest fruit, let the moment teach us and our children the importance of patience. In the tender act of teaching the art of slowing down and looking deeply for the ripe but sometimes hidden strawberries among the vines and clover, we sow seeds of patience that will bear fruit in our children's lives–nourishing them for years to come. When we don’t let them eat each berry they find, we teach the value of delayed gratification. When we don’t get frustrated with them for being children, we allow them to teach us patience.
Savoring the Fruits of Our Labor
When the time comes to taste the sweet rewards of our labor, Berry's words resonate deeply: "Eating with the fullest pleasure—pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance—is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world."
As we gather the ripe strawberries in our baskets, we are reminded that true pleasure lies not only in consuming the fruit but also in connecting to the process that brought it to our lips. Farmers sowed the seeds and cultivated each plant. Nature allowed it to grow from a flower bloom into a berry. We can impart this wisdom to our children as we pick together. We can show them the beauty of nurturing something from its humble beginnings to the moment it graces our table. We can include them in the process of washing the berries and using them to make something delicious together. They will experience that true delight lies in savoring the fruits of our labor, knowing that they played a role in the end result.
In the company of strawberries and the wisdom of Wendell Berry, we find an invitation to embrace the stillness and slowness of nature, cultivate patience, and savor the work of our hands. Before we begin to fill the calendar squares of the summer months, let us strive to remember the transformative power of slowing down, not only for ourselves but also for our children's development. Let’s learn to live slowly.
At Strawberry Run, our hope is that the act of harvesting strawberries becomes a cherished tradition, instilling a deeper appreciation for the beauty that lies within our reach and guiding us toward ways of slow living.