I’m going to tell another family Christmas story this week and then, I promise, I’ll get back to fishing on New Year’s Day. These stories are important, though. Most of you know that my whole family fishes and three of us fish professionally. But there’s more to us than that. We’re a big, loving family with traditions that go back decades. Some of those traditions have nothing to do with fishing.
Here goes: When we were all kids we’d go to grandma and grandpa’s house on Christmas. I suppose there’s nothing unusual about that, except for what we did on the way over there. Where we grew up in Florida strawberries are an important agricultural product. The plants are just starting to think about producing in late December. That’s the only way our farmers can make the northern markets in February when strawberry pie is king.
Sometimes, if it would go down below freezing, the berry growers would spray the plants with water. That makes an ice coating over the plants and the buds that protects them. There were years when all you could see was huge fields covered in crystal-clear ice glistening in the early morning sun. There were years when everything looked like a field of diamonds.
We’d pass those fields alongside the road on the way to grandma and grandpa’s house. Dad would sometimes let us get out of the car and go play in the ice. Remember now, this was Florida. We didn’t see a lot of ice except in the kitchen.
I’ll tell you what! We had a ball. Kellie, Arnie, Bobby, and I would run between the rows of plants crunching the ice under our feet. It was slip, fall on your butt, laugh, and then get up so you could do it over again.
It sounds kind of silly now, telling it on paper like this. At the time, though, it was something really special. We always looked forward to it. It didn’t cost any money and we didn’t need anything fancy to do it. We just had fun as a family, doing the things that kids do to have a good time.
And just in case you’re wondering, we didn’t damage the plants — not on purpose anyway. We did our best to stay between the rows and not step on the plants. I will confess, however, that we occasionally ate a berry if we could find a ripe one. That wasn’t often, though. Late December is too early for very many of them to be ripe.
I live in Guntersville, now, so I won’t be there this year. But I’ll bet dollars to donuts that my nieces and nephews stop somewhere along the way to grandma’s and do the same thing if there’s any ice around. It’s a kid’s thing that’ll never grow old.
I miss those days.
You’ll be reading this sometime around Christmas Day. My family and I wish you and your family the best from the very bottom of our hearts.