Sprinkling Strawberries

Here in SoFlo we were still in the post Civil War Reconstruction era, embodied in the young woman who strolled into the store one day as if she had just stepped out of a scene from Gone with the Wind. She came up to me and said, with her syrupy Southern drawl, “Can you tell me, d’y’all sprinkle your strawberries with something…?”

Before leaping to say “Try dry mustard,” I realized, largely due to my long association with Brad, a third generation Floridian, that she was speaking Southern for pesticide.

“Wash ’em well,” I said.

Even though we offered a choice of selecting berries individually by the pound from the berry bar in the center of the store or already packaged, priced by the pint or quart, customers would sort through the berries in the baskets, rearranging them within a basket and among the baskets, women especially, looking like they were at a rummage sale for socks. Then they’d bring this quart towering with berries to the register. It reminded me of when I was a little girl and read this fairy tale about “The Village of Cream Puffs,” the place where Wing Tip, the Spick lived, a little girl with eyes “so blue, such a clear light shining blue, they are the same as cornflowers with blue raindrops shining and dancing on the silver leaves after a sun shower.” (From Rootabaga Stories, by Carl Sandburg.)

The story was illustrated with a picture of a little girl wearing two pronounced beauty marks, freckles, on her creamy white face with the strawberry red lips, and holding onto a tether of floating mountains of cream puffs capped with strawberries and whipped cream, stretching from here to the horizon. The Village of Cream Puffs is so light it must be tethered to a spool so when the wind is done blowing the people of the village come together and wind up the spool to bring the village back where it was before. Wing Tip, the Spick’s freckles that her mother has placed on her chin look like two little burnt cream puffs kept in the oven too long, so that when she peers into the looking glass to brush her hair, she will be reminded of where she came from and won’t stay away too long.

Sometimes if the customer’s berry mountain was too tall for a plastic bag to scale and he or she had gotten the berries from the basket display on my checkout counter when I’d stepped away for a moment, I’d say, “Oh, look at this. Somebody sure filled these baskets unequally. Let me just take a few of these and put them in this half-full basket here,” and I’d grab a small handful out of the customer’s basket and replace them in the other basket. The customer never said anything.

–Samantha Mozart
for Carolina Gringo

9 Responses to Sprinkling Strawberries

  1. Hi Sam – honestly I don’t know how people can be so unfair to the growers/ small farmers … but yes it happens and then the habit gets passed down and is worse …

    I’m amazed to read that the strawberry season in Florida has already finished now … interesting to know – cheers Hilary

    • sammozart says:

      Hi Hilary — I’m amazed that I missed your comment somehow. As for people being unfair, I believe that’s due to the age-old product of the human condition. I work at a discount store now, and while many of our customers are great, there is that element who can be just horrid — insensitive and cruel. My perspective is that these days there’s way too much poverty and suffering out there.

      Re Florida strawberries, they have to be replanted every year, because it’s too hot and humid in the summer for them to survive. For that reason, most Florida crops don’t grow in the summer.

      I do apologize for my late reply here. You are welcome here no matter the season.

      Cheers, Samantha/Carol

      • No worries … these things happen – and you’re busy et al … I suddenly find comments – that I must have seen come through – but never get back, til way later, to acknowledge …

        Our fruits and veg are just coming through now … so should be a delicious time – cheers Hilary

  2. susan scott says:

    oh! now you’ve got me drooling! Cream puffs and strawberries – and cherries thrown into the mix? Thanks Carolina Gringo aka Samantha … much enjoyed. Good images in mind – also, cleverly not letting the customer get away with overloading!

    • sammozart says:

      Has me drooling, too, Susan. Our Florida strawberry season has just ended here. They ship the berries north, so we can buy them in our stores in Delaware and enjoy them. I used to make strawberry shortcake for my mother and me topped with the heavy cream I bought in the store and whipped. Yum.

      These strawberry dealings with the customers occurred 20 years ago. And, as I reread this story for publishing, I wondered if I’d react the same now. I am more subdued and customers are way too sensitive these days.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting. I will be over to your site soon to catch up on your A-Zs.

  3. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Ah-ha!! NOW I know how to get into your blog to read it. Your new blog announcement threw me for a loss. I was wondering if you were going to compete in the A to Z Challenge this year, but I see you are not… me neither. However, miracles do happen as I too posted on my blog today. I haven’t posted in some time. I enjoyed your story.

    • sammozart says:

      Happy you found my post, Gwynn. You can sign up on my website to receive email notifications of my new posts; then, you’ll always find them. Just fill in your email address in the box on the right sidebar here (where it says “Enter your email address,” “Subscribe”).

      I saw you have published a post, also. Glad to see you’re writing. I always enjoy your posts and will be over to visit you soon. I look forward to reading it. No A-Zs this year for me; too much else going on, as with you, too, I’m sure.

      I’m happy you came by and commented, Gwynn. Thank you!

  4. Robert Price says:

    While rummaging through your writing the re-sourcing, arranging, rearranging and hoarding of strawberries in your Funny Farm Story conjured a new character’s name for the antagonist in my latest SoFlo crime, murder mystery, romance, geopolitical triller, novel — Constance Greed.

    Enjoyed this story, I pictured strawberries flittering from towered baskets skittering all over the floor of the the farm stand from the strawberry basket display table all the way to the cashier.

    Looking forward to your next post.


    • sammozart says:

      Well, actually it was the chain of cherry stems that flittered and littered the floor in front of my checkout counter, R, from customers helping themselves to samples of cherries displayed for sale in quart cartons on my counter.

      Thanks for your comment, the visual and the apropos character name.