“Come on, Mattie,” Eli called. “I’m waiting to start picking!”
Mattie hurried out the back porch door to find her brother holding two berry baskets and grinning. It was late spring, and the strawberries were coming fast now. The children’s job was to keep them picked as they ripened. Some could be sold to passersby, but the majority of the sweet red berries would be turned into sparkling jars of homemade jam and neatly stacked on the canning shelves in the cellar.
After Mamm decided there was enough jam to last through next winter, the remaining berries could be enjoyed by the family when they made their favorite treat: hand-cranked homemade ice cream. Nothing said “summer’s almost here” like a big bowl of that velvety vanilla sweetness, topped with sliced fresh strawberries!
Eli and Mattie headed to the berry patch, baskets in hand. As they picked, they sang songs and made up funny stories to tell Mamm and Datt at lunchtime. Tossing an overripe berry at one’s brother or sister was always good for a laugh, too. There was never a shortage of jobs to do on the family’s Amish farm, but Eli and Mattie were taught to add their own “fun” to their chores.
When the baskets of ripe berries had been delivered to Mamm in the kitchen, Eli and Mattie were allowed to play before lunch. They quickly found some favorite toys – Eli’s oak push horse and Mattie’s doll stroller – and raced outside to the sidewalk in front of the house.
“Eli, mind your horse,” Mattie said seriously. “I’m talking my baby for a walk.” Eli, ever the ornery little brother, tried his best, but couldn’t help “bumping into” Mattie a few times with his horse. Mostly though, the siblings enjoyed playing and feeling the nice warm spring sun on their backs.
When Mamm rang the dinner bell for lunch, the children ran to the field to meet Datt and their three older brothers, who were busy plowing the acreage to the north of the house.
“I’m hungry, and thirsty,” Datt said with a smile. “What has Mamm got for us?”
After a big meal around the table, the family dispersed to continue the day’s work. Eli and Mattie helped Mamm bring in the wash from the clothesline, then Eli ran to help Datt while Mattie and Mamm got started making and canning the strawberry jam. Mattie loved to hear the little “pings” as the lids on the canning jars made their seal. But even more, she loved imagining how good the sweet jam would taste spread on Mamm’s homemade bread.
Just another spring day on an Amish farm near Kidron, Ohio. Happy spring!
Editor’s Note: “Eli” and “Mattie” are fictional characters based on the children of many of our Amish friends and neighbors. Any resemblance to real people, living or deceased, is purely coincidental.
Pennsylvania Dutch, a dialect of German, is the language spoken by the Amish, especially at home. Here’s a quick glossary of terms used in this blog: Datt = Dad; Mamm = Mom; ‘Daadi = Grandpa or Grandfather (the formal term is Grossdaadi); ‘Maami = Grandma or Grandmother (formal: Grossmaami); Ach = Oh!
Find the Eli & Mattie toy collection only at Lehman’s.