Growing up in a small dairy farming community in the country, there were not a lot of options for jobs, but one of my favorites and one of my first jobs still conjures up happy memories. We had a small grocery store in our community that always tried to have fresh produce on hand.
While most families grew their own gardens, some people worked all day and didn’t have time to pick fresh berries, but they still wanted to taste summer’s sweet berries. One Sunday at church, our neighbor (her older brother was the produce manager) told my sister about picking strawberries for the local grocery store—she and our neighbor would each pick 16 quarts. My sister didn’t really want to do it, but I did and begged to do so. My mom called the neighbor, and we were set to pick berries on Monday morning. We were also lucky enough to have a strawberry farm in our community. We showed up first thing in the morning, and the farmer told us where to start picking. And he told us to be sure to let him know if they tasted okay. We each picked 16 quarts. I think I picked my 16 quarts and ate another one or two!
They were so good and juicy—right off the vine—it was like eating liquid sunshine. When we finished picking, we dropped off our berries at the store, and they paid us right out of the cash register! I was so excited! I think I made about $3, which was probably minimum wage. We did this every few days for about three weeks that summer, and then the season was over again for another year. I didn’t make a ton of money picking berries that summer, but every time I bite into a sweet Michigan strawberry, I am a kid again, picking and eating a very sweet breakfast!