What was it like to pick wild strawberries a hundred years ago? Here’s a description that appeared in a 1919 magazine:
One might manage April and May, or even July, in the city, but a wild strawberry June belongs only in the heart of the country.
Do you know where these, the sweetest of wild berries, thrive? Up a hill road strewn with leaves, where an ovenbird calls and the red squirrel scolds, over a wall in a mowing, shut away from the rest of the world by pines and birches. A towhee hops on a crumbled stone fence. From remote woods is the trill of a thrush. A squirrel speaks out of the abundance of his irascible nature. The trees sway, the clouds trail their shadow across the slopes of the mountain.
Gathering wild strawberries is exceeding intimate work. Here they grow in a wide patch, to the exclusion of other plants, so thick that when you lean close to them and peek under the leaves you see a red-spotted carpet. Continued bending is painful. Continued squatting is impossible. You select a less fruited section and kneel. Then, preferring stains to stiff joints, you sit. Basket full, you cover the delicious sweetness with ferns and, then, there at the foot of the hill is the brook in which to dip your arms to the elbow and lave your hot face.
Excerpt from “Berrying” by Beulah Rector (American Cookery, June/July, 1919)