The last week of strawberry season I worked the stand by myself most days. One particularly hot and slow day there were only a handful of people in the fields, one was an older couple that I couldn’t help but watch. They had brought buckets upon buckets to fill, the woman asserting that she aimed to make 100 jars of jam; “It’s an all day affair,” she confided. Through the early afternoon their laughs rang across the still fields like a pair of perfectly harmonized song birds.
The man came with his third round of strawberries. He set it on the table, breathing heavily and leaning on the table slightly. As I weighed up the flat and added it to their ever growing list he asked me about our raspberry fields. I repeated my well practiced speech on why we weren’t opening them for U-Pick this year.
“You know,” he said as I handed him his berries, “Black raspberries are so much better than red ones anyways.” He leaned closer and lowered his tone, “We used to have a ton of bushes but she made me cut them down, you know, so she could have a lawn.”
“I needed space for a garden,” his wife asserted, appearing out of nowhere, visibly affronted.
He jumped in surprise and turned towards her. They locked gaze for a few long seconds, his eyes narrowed, her eyebrows raised. Then he grunted in her general direction, and scuffled back towards the truck with his flat.
She signed and turned to me, “You know, we’ve only been married 35 years.”
I laughed, “I can tell.”
Her face fell and she looked flustered, “No I mean we’re best friends.”
“That’s what I can tell.”
Glancing off towards the truck where her husband was loading the berries, her face softened and her eyes took on a brighter shade of green. “My heart still leaps when I see him when I’m not supposed to… well, you know, when he surprises me.”
She returned to the present and realized she was talking out loud. A bit embarrassed, she grinned sheepishly and turned towards the fields. As she walked away I muttered to myself as much as to her, “That’s how it should be, what we all hope for.”