Last week, I covered the strawberry patch with deer fencing. The catbirds and mockingbird pecked a few, and the abundant slugs feasted on the leftovers. Now, I have to defend the patch against my 17 month old. He hardly finishes one and another is in his mouth.
I exclaim, "This is where food comes from!" as I pick another fruit. I worry about strawberry allergies. His mouth bulges. A sweet bead of strawberry juice forms on his lower lip. He stares. He is in a reverie. My husband picks at the other end of row.
My son swats at his head. I scratch my arm, my ankles, my rear end. "No seeums! Mosquitoes! I'm being bitten. Arg!"
I pick lambsquarters. My husband offers to take our son inside. He protests on the walk back to the house.
I hear my husband say, "Don't worry, Momma's coming." A few minutes later I hustle down the lane, scratching my bites and sucking on my bloody knuckle that I cut on the chickenwire gate as I hastily exited the garden.
"See there's Momma." I see them watching me. My son's look is intent.
I drop the baskets of lambsquarters, mint, lemon balm, spinach, and strawberries. My son reaches for the ripe red fruit. His mouth bulges. He picks the stem off - he learns fast.
My son's not worried about Momma. He's worried about strawberries.
Inside, the strawberry feast continues. He knows the berries are in the basket on the counter and out of reach. He hops up and down, pointing. I give him two more berries and say, "All done. All gone."
He smiles, holds up his hand palm up, and then dashes out of the kitchen.