I was going to include these photographs in the latest weekend post. But something stopped me. Maybe it was because there was so many. But I think it’s because it seemed special enough to document on its own somehow.
And I think that’s because, part-way round, I turned to Mark and said: “I know it sounds silly. But it’s moments like this I feel alive.”
And I really did.
I live in a small village. And it doesn’t have much. But what it does have are things of huge importance to me.
It has rambling fields everywhere. It has neighbours who bring our bins in for us, and collect our post, and know our names. It has giant cow statues outside a locally-run bike shop (I don’t know why either, but we enjoy them). It has lots of local shops actually. And that brilliant butcher around the corner from my house. It has my family, either side of us, our house in the centre. And it has a fruit farm that, every time we pass, we say: “We must go there one day.”
And we’ve said that ever since we passed it in April.
And yet it didn’t open until June.
So we waited.
And then life got busy. Such is the way. And we never managed it. Until I remembered this week. And I checked. And this was the last weekend until it closed. The last chance.
And I’m so glad that the day that started off cloudy, soon became bathed in sunshine. And I’m so glad that we made our way there, despite having no clue what to expect.
But it was just so lovely. It was wonderful. It was all of the best adjectives.
We could teach Bill about fruit. And how it grows.
We saw his excitement every time he spotted a bright red berry.
We did it together.
In fact, today was one of those days that I was very much a third wheel. Not in that I was excluded. But that dungaree-clad little boy just wanted to impress his step-dad. Scurrying after him. Talking to him.
But he always stopped to make sure I was still there. Me – a handful of berries staining one hand, and a camera in the other. I think it’s very clear how he’ll remember his mother.
I loved working out how to pick the berries. I picked it up pretty quickly and, as my thighs burned and the sting from nettles lit up my wrist in a prickle of fire, I appreciated the levels that people go to in order to grow juice-plump berries and just to get them in our bowls, atop our yoghurt or granola. They feel like much more than that, when you pick them yourself.
The scenery was pretty incredible. I get pretty struck on views. I like to find beauty in things because the shapes of clouds, or the formation of leaves, or the rows of plants – they are pretty incredible when you stop and think how they actually got there in the first place.
We ended up with two punnets – one of strawberries and one of raspberries. The latter are my favourite fruit.
And they weren’t perfect. And they did need a rinse. But they tasted like actual sunshine.
Watching this little boy, amongst tall plants, grasses, and purple flowers, I was just struck on how lovely he is.
He’s a very helpful and endearing little soul. And while he’s by no means perfect, I love him just as he is.
I used to try and imagine the boy that my bump would one day become, when I was pregnant. I would try and picture his face, his smile, he ways.
And what he turned out to be is but a fraction of what I could ever have imagined. And my imagination runs pretty wild.
Once we were satisfied, with over an hour out in the fields, we headed back to pay and pick up a homemade ice cream, using fruits from the farm.
Bill chose strawberry, I, raspberry. And Mark was ridiculously well behaved.
And as we sat in the sunshine. And I surveyed my family. I felt pretty blessed.
I never expected this.
I never expected our family to grow.
It was supposed to just be me and my boy.
But our family has grown.
The best man I’ve ever met chose to join us. When many wouldn’t dare.
And our family is going to keep growing. Like the fruit we picked.
And season, after season, I’ll enjoy that.