Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Wild strawberries grown from two plants from Olive Belletto (1968) that make a lovely tangle in the shade near my front door.

Grass never grew here and we let a strawberry seedling--I imagine bird-planted just go. Now it is a large triangular area maybe 8 feet by four at the widest. It looks gorgeous, especially this time of year, and maintains itself in an area that was too shady for grass. An area that it colonized itself. The strawberries are tiny and not terribly sweet, but the plant DOES make them, those little yellow spots are the first fruits, which will grow larger before they turn red. We still have quite bit of strawberry groundcover in the back yard, but this is the patch that thrives the most.
Olive Belletto was a World War II war bride from Britain. When I was first working for the library, I worked with her at Morgan Hill. She was very interested in cactus and made a large garden, which was largely uprooted (but she saved some of the plants) when they took a chunk of her land for a freeway cloverleaf. She was one of the most ethical, upright and honest people I have ever known, and she thought everyone else should be the same. Once, when a fellow came back from a tour of duty with the military, she remembered on his first visit to the library that he had an overdue auto manual and she made him go home, find it, and bring it back!
She gave me two little plants of this wild strawberry that she had dug out of a meadow on one of her auto trips (alas, she used to dig up cactus, too, her one ethical contradiction) planted in th bottom half of a beer can with holes punched in it for drainage.
She and her husband are both gone now, so I thought I could write about her here without offense. As long as I live in this house and these little white flowers lift their faces every spring, I can remember this friend I knew 40 years ago. I have been thinking a great deal lately about memory and how, for me, physical objects are memory triggers. Perhaps someone who comes after me will not think these little plants are so sweet, and surely they will not enjoy them the way I do, because they hold the end of a memory thread.