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« Behind a great rose garden there is an Uncle Dan | Main | Bring tomatoes »

Catalog Money

catalog moneyYou Pick, 6 x 13 inches, acrylic on paper, 2011.My mother-in-law, Jane, was a city girl, but her cousin, Francie, was all country.  Francie grew up on a farm, married a farmer who lived down the road, and raised her children on the same farm. They were one of those wonderful multi-generational families that worked together. They farmed in the spring, canned in the fall and quilted in the winter. Francie and husband George grew everything they needed. They even collected heirloom seeds to continue growing the lettuces and tomatoes their families had protected for generations. It was amazing to walk through the fields and see so much. But I have to say, the most impressive field in the spring was Francie’s strawberry field. It was big, and when the berries were ripe, she opened her field to friends and neighbors to pick their own.  Whatever profit Francie collected became her catalog money.  Very clever of Francie to tempt us with fresh picked strawberries.


Above: (Left) Country Girl, Francie Wilhelm, teaching us how to pick. (Right) City girl, Jane, picked strawberries with ouroldest son. Check out Jane's red pantsuit and strawberry blouse. There will be more about this fabulous woman later.

We were given instructions on picking strawberries: stay in your row, don’t leave ripe berries, don’t kneel on plants, don’t knock blossoms off, and don’t eat too many before you pay.  Once we started it was hard to stop. Warm from the sun, the sweet smell of ripe berries is intoxicating. And if we picked extra, well, it just gave Francie a little more catalog money.

1984. Wilhelm Farm, Mascoutah, Illinois. Me with my sons, Justin and Brian.

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