Weekend Coffee Share 7/1/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be meeting in my library.  I’d be sitting at my usual perch behind the circulation desk blinking sleepily at you over a my Shakespeare mug, which is filled with lemon ginger tea.  Work is quiet today–the usual patrons are settled and happy on the public computers–so I have time to chat.

Can you believe it’s already July?!  Summer is going by WAY too quickly!

On Tuesday, I lead a Marshmallow Engineering STEM activity at the library.  I got to work obnoxiously early that morning, giving me time to run around town picking up last minute supplies.  I had no idea how many people to expect.  In the end, there were around fifteen kids and their parents.  I lead them through some basic exercises and challenges before giving them free reign to build anything they wanted with marshmallows and toothpicks.  It was so much fun!  Everyone had an absolute blast and, when the event wrapped up, all came into the library to do the various scavenger hunts and games I have set up.  It’s days like this one where I can’t believe how lucky I am–I get paid to play with kids!  I get paid to load them up with marshmallows and send them home to their parents all sugared up.  Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share 6/17/17

If we were having coffee, we’d be sitting on my front patio in the beautiful morning sunlight.  I’d probably be in my pajamas groggily drinking my morning tea and watching my new kittens scamper around.

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Yes, I have new kittens!  I got them yesterday from one of my patrons at the library.  There are two girls–one calico and one grey–and they are adorable!  I already love them so much!  They’re to be outdoor kitties.  Last night, I got them set up in their new cat house.  They’re still adjusting to the new surroundings–they freak out if one of our other cats comes near them.  But they’re starting to play and explore in our flower gardens, so it’s only a matter of time for them to be settled.   I don’t have names for them yet–any suggestions? Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Long Days at the Strawberry Patch (& More!)

If we were having coffee, we would be meeting in the strawberry patch for the second week in a row.  The season continues to progress and, given that it’s a family business, we’ve all been working ourselves to the bone.  I haven’t had a day off in over a week!  Most days, our staff is there to help and, if we’re lucky, they stick around to help on Saturday–which is when we get the biggest crowds.  Sundays, though, are up to us.  My brother, dad, and I hit the patch at 7:30 AM to get everything set up and, even after customers started rolling in, it took a couple of hours to actually wake up. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Strawberries, Anyone?

If we were having coffee, I’d probably be thanking you for swinging by the coffee shop and picking something up for me on your way here.  You’ll find me at my family’s farm, way out in the back fields.  It’s strawberry season, which means I work on weekends.  Don’t worry about getting lost–there are maps located in the black mailbox fixed to the orchard sign to pick up as you drive in.  When you get to the patch, you will most likely find me under the canopy greeting customers and handling check-out. Continue reading

Day in the Life of a Strawberry Field Hand

These days, the alarm goes off at 6:45 AM.

It sounds like church bells.  No, not the kind that play pleasant hymns or patriotic songs.  These bells are unpleasant–a discord of clanging and bellowing that is all too effective in waking me up.

The first thing I do is reach for my study Bible.  I roll up my shade and the early morning light helps me blearily make it through a couple of segments of Ezekiel and 1 Timothy.  (I like to always be reading something from the Old and New Testaments simultaneously.)

Next, I cautiously make my way from my bedroom to the kitchen.  As I heat water for tea, I go through routine stretches, pulling my body to smooth the stiff ache of sleep away.  If my older brother is around, he knows better to talk to me.  If he tries, I shoot him a sullen look and shake my head at him.  It’s not that I’m crabby in the morning.  I’m usually not.  I just need time to wake up before I’m ready to speak to anyone.  By the time I’ve consumed a bowl of Rice Krispies and a cup of tea, I’m ready for conversation.

By 7:20 I’m done with breakfast, have shuffled through my social media accounts on my phone, brushed my teeth, thrown on the same clothes as yesterday (red t-shirt with black running shorts), grabbed my lunchbox, and have left the house.

I cross the road and move one of our several golf carts to the service door of the shed.  By this point, my coworkers have also arrived.  Together, we dart in and out of the barn, filling the back of the carts with picking boxes, electronic scales, bottled water, and a large box containing an assortment of pens, fliers, and garbage bags.  Once this is done, we slowly drive through the orchard and to the back fields where the strawberries are.

We spend the next ten minutes getting everything in place–folding boxes, making sure scales are level, and applying sunscreen.  Usually, a couple of people scout the rows we’ll be picking in, walking up and down covering up any deer poop that has cropped up during the night.

At eight o’clock, my dad drives one of the golf carts to the entrance to pull the chain.  He then leads a stream of cars through our driveway, waving them into parking position with bright orange flags.  Some mornings, there are only three cars.  Others, there are thirty.

There are three main jobs one gets to do throughout the day: Man the stand, ferry customers, and run fields.  I usually do the first–greeting customers, weighing their berries, and checking them out.  Ferrying is easy–you just drive to and from the fields picking up and dropping off customers.  My least favorite is running the field.  Here, you stay in your assigned section.  When customers are brought out, you place them on rows, give them instructions, and make sure all is well.  If you have spare time, you carry around an ice cream bucket and pick up any rotten berries customers leave behind them on the straw.

On weekends, we close at noon.  This means that, around twelve-ish, my dad changes all the signs and phone message to “CLOSED”.  We, however, usually stick around much longer–waiting for the current customers to finish, cleaning up the fields, and offering the pre-picked berries my little brother spent all morning picking to any people who arrive before we can put the chain up.

If it’s a week day, we will be open longer into the afternoon.  When the customers are gone, we grab hoes and spend the rest of the afternoon making war with the weeds that threaten to take over the newly planted fields.  If it’s a weekend, we re-load the golf carts, put everything back in the shed, and I trudge back up to the house.

This is when I crash.  Whether a weekend or weekday, I slump on a couch and exhaustion slowly seeps throughout my body.  It’s a good kind of exhaustion–the kind that makes limbs go heavy to the core and a bleary haziness fall over my mind.

Even though I’m off work, strawberry season is unescapable.  The phone still rings off the hook.  Customers still show up in the parking lot across the road.  My dad darts in and out of the house, doing this job and that.  His work goes on long past the rest of us are finished.

The remainder of the day is pretty much useless.  Sometimes, I actually do things.  I put in a load of laundry.  I mow the lawn.  I bake cookies.  But when I think about actually doing the things I want to do, the things that bring me life, I simply feel more tired.  I think about reading, about painting, about working on some blog posts.  But, usually, any attempt stops here.  It just seems futile–reading makes my eyes want to shut, blogging brings forth nothing but a muddled jumble of un-publishable words, and paint dribbles aimlessly on paper, my mind is to out-of-it to know where it should go.

The evening passes by quickly.  Dinner with family, watch the news, cuddle with the cat, watch a movie.

By ten o’clock, the day has sapped all my energy.  I slump to my bed, falling asleep almost as soon as my head hits the pillow.

At 6:45 AM, the alarm goes off and I do it all again.

Just two weeks left until strawberry season is over.

Strawberry season, anyone?

Now that summer is in full-swing, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than picking strawberries?  Or, in my case, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than working at a strawberry patch?

That’s right, folks.  Strawberry season is here.

You see, my family owns a pick-your-own patch (and apple orchard).  I’m on the summer work crew and we’ve been toiling for weeks getting the fields weeded, fertilized, and ready for customers.  Yesterday, we picked up all the planks and sandbags up from frost season and mowed everything–The fields look amazing.

The plan was to open at eight o’clock this morning, but the weather had other plans.  My alarm went off shortly before seven and I woke to the sound of pouring rain.  Determined not to let our opening day be a rainout, my dad decided to open at ten instead.  (Which meant I got to go back to sleep!)  At the appointed time, he and I loaded up our golf carts with our scales, picking boxes, and gear and got to work.

It was a slow morning, but boy, did the berries look nice!  I worked check-out and my small-talk skills were quickly pulled from hibernation.  Most of the customers were regulars–not deterred by the wet fields.  One lady was so determined that she arrived wearing plastic poncho-pants and left completely dry with three flats of berries.

We were open till mid-afternoon and my day was sustained by conversing with adorable small children and sassy old men.  I had the foresight to bring a book, so when things got slow I plowed through Bleak House (I’m almost to the 600 page mark!).

Strawberry season is both a relief and a torture.  It’s wonderful to have a change of routine (we’ll be running the patch instead of doing field labor), but since I live on site, its presence always looms.  The season eclipses dinner conversations.  The phone rings off the hook.  Dad darts in and out of the house stressing about all the work that still has to get done.  I work every day–even weekends.

I’m glad to finally be open and I look forward to it being over.   (The funny thing is, I don’t even like eating strawberries.)

What’s your favorite way to spend a summer Saturday morning?