Today was one of those days that went on a little too long. Though we enjoyed our flat ride, we were ready to be done after 60 kilometers (we are slow). Unfortunately, no good free-camps were presenting themselves. So we continued, waffling between one mediocre camp after another, and quickly growing tired as our flat terrain suddenly sprouted hills. We called it quits when I found a small clearing behind a roadside garbage dump.
Tyler sat, grumpily boring holes into sticks while I made camp in the prickly underbrush. He was upset largely because, even with all the technology we have, none of it was working well enough to allow him to call his mother on her birthday. "Doesn't anyone make anything that works?!" he shouted to the passing cars, the decaying dog carcass, the old, junky TV, and the mounds of disposable diapers.
There is little more upsetting to Tyler than a job done poorly, save for the inability to perform a simple function expediently. Our international cellular provider, MobilityPass, has as of late combined both of these flaws, functioning less than 50% of the time we actually need it. The sole reason for their existence is to provide connectivity worldwide and their excuses for the service outages are endless.
Eventually, Tyler snapped out of his funk long enough to help, steering us towards a better spot across a muddy field. And so, we set up camp in a slightly more secluded grove of blossoming fruit trees, devoid of garbage. Their branches waved in the wind, sending petals dropping like snowflakes all around us. As the flowers filled the air with the heady scent of spring, I fished out a plastic carton of strawberries I'd purchased earlier from a man selling them by the side of the road.
One by one, I took the strawberries in hand, and with a curving motion, cut out the green-leaved top. I then sliced the fruits and placed the slivers in our little metal pie pan. I sprinkled the whole mess with copious amounts of sugar and then set the pan in a safe corner of the tent, warning Tyler not to knock it over. As I waited for the sugars to release the strawberries' juices, I thought of my grandmother.
Every time we visit my grandparents' house in the spring and summer, there is a bowl on the counter (covered in plastic wrap) of mashed strawberries in a sweet, vibrant ruby syrup. The best part of the meal is always the end, when my grandma brings out the bowl and, with a large antique silver spoon, ladles the sweetened fruit over cut-glass bowls filled with vanilla ice cream, or little pound-cake cups bought from Meehan's grocery store, perhaps served with a generous dollop of Cool Whip.
We had neither ice cream nor cake nor anything delicious to accompany the strawberries this evening, but we enjoyed every bite, and thought of you, Grandma!
Also, Happy Birthday, Jodi! We love you!