SLOW ME UP! Strawberries

I spent several hours in the nursery this weekend, some of them potting on strawberries. They were cheery little things, and as I swaddled them with fresh soil, I thought about how life in a nursery. Every day I walk in and check the beds, see how the young sprouts are doing, find out who has had upheavals or wilting during the night.

I try to remember to wear gloves so I don’t get splinters from the plywood workbench, but this time I forgot. I stopped to look at the compacted soil under my fingernails, and thought how cross my mother would have been. When I was a child, our hands were thoroughly scrubbed before we were allowed to go near the piano. She was right, of course; I can’t bear it when dirty fingers have left a sticky trace on the keys, though I love nothing more than having certain someones pound around on my piano.

Thinking of all this made me remember some fabulous vintage strawberry patterned fabric from the 50s, was it? Who was that designer, a woman, who made great frocks for little girls, with all sorts of wonderful patterns, and tucking and ruching and every other perfect touch? (This is the sort of thing An Aesthete's Lament knows, I'm certain.) Those dresses imprinted themselves on my budding style consciousness and I have been yearning for them ever since. It must be spring that is bringing on these memories.

I was impressed--and delighted--by how many Easter postings there were about clothing, starting with Reggie Darling’s charming and eloquent plea for more sartorial attention to special occasions. Recently, an airline attendant actually thanked me, as I was boarding a flight, for wearing a dress. I must have been in the grips of nostalgia for an era when there actually were special occasions. Bring them back! With the dresses!

And from Ed, on that sweet, demure young plant: Fragaria chiloensis 'Green Pastures'. More for ornament than fruit. Once happy, it will spread forth and multiply.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I remember that strawberry bedroom that Sister Parish once did. With the twin black tole beds that had the star medallions on the headboards and footboards. Strawberries everywhere, on the walls, the bedspreads, the upholstery. But I don't think that's who you're thinking of. Sister never did dresses.

My mother buys me garden gloves every Spring. A very strong hint. Honestly, I hate to wear them. I love to feel the dirt in my hands. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

One of the great joys of life is granddaughters. I took my 1 year old granddaughter to the plant nursery today for the first time. She was as delighted in the promise of spring flowers and fountains and ferns as I am.

She is also quite pleased with Easter dresses and with pink spring sandals. A delightful companion!


Anonymous said...

what will your first dish be with these scrumptious strawberries?
i'm the opposite. no gloves. nothing gives me more pleasure than getting out splinters from a hard day's work.
so giddy i found your blog.

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

This has nothing to do with strawberries, but I don't know where else to post this.

You'll be interested to know that you and your recent work are mentioned in this morning's "Salon.com". Click on:

"Five Kids in a trailor"? That, indeed, does sound like a Fete Worse Than Death.

Congratulations on all the well-deserved, recent buzz,

David Terry

Dominique said...

Haven't looked at salon, but still chuckling here at my desk over Fete Worse than Death. That has to become the title of something.....! I too remember that strawberry Sister moment. Do you think I turned an armchair into a dress in my memory? The tricks decorating plays on the mind....

rebecca said...

I'm not sure who you're thinking of, but was it perhaps Florence Eisman? The dresses were heavy on the applique work and supercute! (OK, maybe I'm biased--I had a few as a young lass...)

Dana said...

I know the dresses. Smocked bodices with cap sleeves or sleeveless. I wore them as a child in the 50's. Some had little embroidered roses in the smocking. Can't remember the name.
I love getting my hands in the dirt but hate cleaning the dirt from under my nails. Run your nails over a bar of soap before hand and the dirt has no where to get in, plus the soap helps with the clean-up later.

Claire said...

I was a rugged child of the 70s, Dorothy Hamill haircut and brightly colored Nikes. My mother was somewhat disappointed that her first daughter shunned anything frilly or fussy as she couldn't wait to get me into cute little getups for church and other occasions. She found this amazing little "Polly Flinders" outlet in North Carolina, I think, where she purchased loads of the cutest smocked dresses to last me from infancy through my awkward pre-teen years. Eventually I came around, and for a time - at age 6 - I wouldn't wear anything else. Polly Flinders every day, with sneakers. And shorts underneath, of course. There are a few places I've found to buy them online. Now that I'm pregnant with my first (not sure if it will be a girl), I am really hoping to turn up a few of those frocks in mom's attic!

Victoria Thorne said...

Those strawberries. Covered our dresses and every house we ever lived in.

My mother loved them, and it was really a glorious thing -- we moved so often (my father was an Army officer) that the strawberries became home. From post to post, in every set of Quarters we were assigned to, the strawberries went in (on teacups, cushions, tablecloths, toleware; everywhere) and the movable feast assured that every house became a "really truly home." It was genius of my mom, and decked our childhoods in happy red and green. My sister and I were lucky ones.

Dominique said...

THANK YOU EVERYONE! A chink of memory has been restored in my brain. Florence Eisman it was! So happy, I'm going to go browsing down memory lane on line....and great tip about the soap. Will try it today. And how lovely that the strawberries made the move every time, it makes moving a cheery thought!

Anonymous said...

Late coming back to your cheery, delightful writing. Ah, strawberries. I have memories of a quilted polished cotton bathrobe covered with the red lovelies. I believe I was sick with whooping cough at the time. I couldn't have been more than four as the memory takes me back to the Lincoln Street house and we had moved by 1949.

Anonymous said...

I thought they might have been Kate Greenaway's (?sp) dresses.....I remember mine, which were purchased at Eli Moore's, in New Haven, a small store across from The Green. They all had hidden pockets in the skirts, too.

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