PORCH SWING POINT OF VIEW A Buckhannon Native: The Strawberry

Typically at this time of year, Buckhannon would be abuzz with tourists and locals alike as folks joined in the festivities surrounding the only fruit that wears its seeds on the outside—the strawberry. This year of course will be different with events scaled down considerably. But we’re used to that by now, right? We carry on. Nevertheless, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to explore some hidden truths that stem from every Buccaneer’s favorite berry.

My wife hails from Randolph County (I still married her anyway), and soon after we were married, she found me capping strawberries at the kitchen sink one morning. I quickly informed her that in order to be allowed to live in Buckhannon, she must learn to cap berries. She’s caught on to my little trick now after five years of marriage, but for awhile there, I simply sat back and enjoyed the fruits of her labors. Under my careful guidance, she has become a strawberry aficionado, as many of the residents of Buckhannon are as well. In fact, like many of you, I have strawberry royalty in my blood; my great-grandfather was Strawberry King for some of the very first festivals in the 1940s. 

There are a few things we in Upshur County all know about strawberries; and there are also a few controversies of course. First, we know how to select berries, and with that we know that the largest, brightest berries are not always the best. Isn’t that true with people as well? We don’t often find the friendliest people, the truest friends, or the most faithful companions by selecting those which stand out the most. Rather, it is in the quiet, the humble, the unimposing that we find some of the sweetest. Remember that whether you’re selecting strawberries or friends.

Unfortunately, we simply don’t have the means to locally supply the demand for strawberries, which means you’ll often find yourself at the supermarket to pick up a flat to enjoy and of course you’ll usually be faced with two choices. You know what they are:  Florida or California berries? I told you there would be controversy! Most people have a strong preference of one over the other. Just like berries, we meet people of all walks of life from all parts of the world too. Some seem instantly like old friends and others, well, try as we might, just aren’t our cup of tea as the saying goes. And I think that’s okay. If we can treat one another with respect and dignity, then we’re certainly allowed our preferences, just as we are permitted to have a preference in berry selection.

One final strawberry lesson. When my grandmother was alive, she entered the strawberry cooking contest each year. She had some delicious winners and then she had a few real flops. She would experiment and concoct in her kitchen-turned-laboratory searching for something to wow the judges. Often this meant taking other recipes and substituting in strawberries for other ingredients. I can tell you, as she discovered, some things are just not better with strawberries! In the end, she came to realize there is just no substitute for the real thing, the tried and true. Strawberry shortcake, strawberry pie, strawberry pancakes—those are just a few of the guaranteed winners. In life, we must remember that there is just no exception for the real thing either. Be genuine, be confident, and be yourself—for there is no substitute for the real you. 

I hope you enjoy the scaled-back festival this year as we all look forward to the full-blown event next year! 

P.S.—Just in case you’re wondering where I fall on the better of the two out-of-state strawberries, just look at which one I mentioned first!


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