Four years ago I planted strawberries under my blueberry bushes. I had visions of harvesting strawberries in early summer, then blueberries in late summer year after year. Half of that vision became a reality. My blueberry bushes have thrived & I have been fortunate enough to harvest enough blueberries to make jams, muffins, and even share some with friends. The strawberries are another story. Every year the plants bloom and set fruit. However, just as the berries begin to ripen, the squirrel comes along and gobbles them all up. Year after year my expectations were ripped from my plants by the humble little squirrel doing what squirrels do.
This year I decided to approach my gardening in a different way. Instead of focusing on a desired outcome, I decided to simply be grateful for what is there. I realized that I sure couldn’t keep the squirrel from being a squirrel, but I could let go of a pre-conceived notion of what my garden could be and embrace the beauty that exists there. I decided that though I may not harvest one strawberry, the plants are beautiful to look at and the squirrel will certainly not go hungry!
This small shift in thinking began to create a ripple effect I hadn’t expected. A few weeks after the first blooms, I noticed a few ripe strawberries hanging from their stems. Now the squirrel had been through this patch, I’d seen him. Yet here were these few berries left untouched. I harvested the ripe ones and placed them in a bowl. Not a bumper crop mind you, but there were enough to add to a salad for our summer solstice dinner. They were simply beautiful and the most flavorful strawberries I’d ever eaten. With every mouthful I expressed my gratitude for the luxury of savoring these beautiful morsels. The squirrel can have the rest I thought for we had enjoyed our little bounty in that moment.
About a week or so later I was walking by the berry bed and noticed, much to my surprise, more ripe berries waiting to be plucked! I grabbed a colander and harvested what I could – enough for 3 smoothies! With every gulp I expressed my gratitude for being able to enjoy a second harvest of these lovely berries.
Last weekend Brian & were walking around our garden marveling at how all the plants have filled in and seem to be doing so well. Then we approached the berry bed. Along the way we saw remnants of strawberries, obviously the squirrel had passed through. No surprise there. However a surprise was waiting for us at the berry bed. LOTS of ripe strawberries just waiting to be plucked!
Neither of us could believe it. Brian grabbed the harvesting basket and set to work. So many strawberries! Enough berries in fact that I was able to make some Strawberry Grand Marnier Jam. So good!
The lesson I’ve learned from the squirrel and the strawberries is this – when I release myself from the vision of how I think things should be, a plentiful bounty lay right at my feet, and I am grateful!
I’ve posted the recipe for this jam on the site. Just go to the recipe tab and download it if you like.
(All images taken with my iPhone and processed with camera apps)