A few years ago, I was walking through our farm gardens, when all of a sudden I turned around, and there stood a hungry tiger, licking his chomps. “Hmmm, that’s a peculiar non-native species to roam the Wisconsin countryside,” I said to myself, and then ran like hell across the field.
All of a sudden, I came to the edge of a cliff, staring down into the deep canyon below. ‘Hmmm, this canyon wasn’t here yesterday,” I noted, as the tiger quickly caught up to me. As I looked down, at the bottom of the canyon stood a second tiger, ready for dinner. I saw a small branch growing out of the edge of the cliff, and I quickly jumped and grabbed the branch, dangling precipitously over the cliff drop off, but hey, I figured I’m still alive.
I look up to see not only tiger number one snarling down at me, but two voracious mice, chewing away on my branch. But as the branch started to crack and my life flashed before me, my eye catches a strawberry, dangling from its vine. Not just any strawberry, but a perfectly ruby red ripe beauty, moist with morning dew. And I reach out, picked it and ate that strawberry.
You can probably figure out my fate in this fable, a Midwestern version inspired by a Buddhist tale. But the lesson is that each one of us is symbolically hanging from that dangling branch. The tiger represents death – which will happen to all of us eventually. The mice represent time – we all receive a finite amount in our lifetime. We don’t know the ultimate path our life’s journey will take or when it will end. This story reminds us to embrace the moment, live fully in the present and leave no sweet seasonal strawberry behind.
With strawberry season in full gear,make strawberry eating a symbolic, spiritual act with every berry you pop in our mouth. Take full advantage of whatever life offers on your plate today, from crunchy late spring pea pods to fresh strawberry pina coladas, from an e-mail from an old friend to a creative late-night energy burst. Live, eat and love in the here and now – the strawberry season, as well as my six-year old begging me to help him dip some in chocolate, will be over all too soon.
If you need any more promoting to celebrate the strawberry, here’s my favorite strawberry dessert, which only works well with peak ripe berries:
Strawberry Whip Cream Roll
6 eggs, separated
¾ c. sugar, divided
1 c. ground walnuts
¼ c. dry bread crumbs
¼ c. all-purpose flour
1/8 t. salt
4 c. fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
* In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add ¼ c. sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
* In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Combine walnuts, bread crumbs, flour and salt. Add to yolk mixture. Mix well. Gently fold in egg white mixture.
* Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. jelly roll baking pan with wax paper. Grease the wax paper with butter. Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert cake onto a clean kitchen towel dusted with powdered sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.
* In a mixing bowl, bean cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and vanilla, beating until stiff peaks form.
* Unroll cake; spread with filling to within ½-in. of edges. Top with sliced berries. Roll up again. Place seam side down on serving plate. Chill until serving. Dust each slice with powdered sugar before serving.