How Could You Have Let Strawberry Season Pass You By?

You idiot.

Summer is over, and I can’t believe you let strawberry season pass you by.

You do this every year. You tell yourself you’ll buy them. That they’ll be fresh and beautiful and perfectly bright, the flesh soft as a kiss and twice as sweet. Subtle but uncomplicated, sunshine on your tongue.

That’s all gone, now. You missed your chance.

Think of all the strawberries you could have eaten! Remember every time you walked to the farmer’s market and saw them there, vibrating red in their little cardboard cartons the color of clear sky. The gentle, warm wind carried their scent to your nose and you almost could not help yourself.

You didn’t buy them, though, did you?

Because you didn’t have cash on you and you didn’t want to carry them on the train back to your apartment. What did you say to yourself as you walked away? You said “next time.” Well, I’m here to tell you you ran out of next times. Strawberry season is long over. It’s gone. They’re gone.

The strawberries are gone.

And you didn’t even say goodbye.

You have no excuse. Don’t tell me it’s too short a time — you had so much time. Strawberry season is late-May through early July. That’s more than a month, a month and a half, if we’re really pushing it. Six whole weeks for strawberries.

(It’s been much, much more than six weeks since strawberry season actually ended, and you’re only just noticing you’ve missed it now. What does that say about you?)

Could you please take a look at this list of recipes you could have made with strawberries during strawberry season?

You could have made these. Could, but didn’t. Now you won’t. You can’t. It’s much, much too late.

You tell yourself it will all be alright, that you can buy them from the grocery store, from the squeaky plastic containers with the bright yellow sticker. But it’s not the same, and you know it in your heart. Grocery store strawberries are juiceless, mealy, hard and cold, and look too much like rhinophyma for comfort. They are not strawberries. Not strawberries at all.

What else have you missed? Blackberries and cherries, for sure. Try not to think about it too much.

Peaches and nectarines — there might still be time for those. They’ve been gone just a few days. Perhaps you can find some leftovers in a grocery store dumpster.

It’s blueberries from here on out. And really, that’s not so bad — blueberries are wonderful. And hopefully now you’ve learned your lesson, and you will appreciate them, cook with them, eat them from your cupped palm, staining your fingers, staining your lips, until mid October comes, and the coils of northern wind settle over the patch in the morning, and the leaves and vines are laced with frost, and the fields fall silent until spring, and you are licking the juices from beneath your fingers and guzzling canned pear syrup and trying, trying, to forget.