Early morning, dew on the strawberry leaves, the sun will burn through the mist.
Another day's warmth and the strawberries will be just right.
Mid-morning, looking out of the window, a young blackbird, brown speckled, his beak just turning saffron yellow, is slipping below the runners, harvesting. As he is chased off, he drops his catch, a big ripe one, half pecked away. Another sorry shred hangs from its calix.
I love the blackbirds for ecstatic, excitable things. I even love the way they can't resist the luminous, glossy red of the berries, go wild for it. But I haven't nurtured these plants - a gift from the beautiful Maxime, a gourmet and connoisseur of fine things even at his tender 12 years, two years ago - on the terrace, strawed them and fed them and saved them from slugs and woodlice, only to see them binged in a day by marauding blackbirds. Tom applies his initiative, kindly fetches a raised bed surround from the vegetable garden, and improvises a knee-high fruit cage, which I can step into to reach them. By the end of the day, there is a generous, unmolested, bowlful for the picking.
Gilding the lily as ever, and ignoring my inner food police, I sprinkle them with icing sugar and rosé wine.
William Morris, it seems, could not bring himself to stop the thrushes raiding his strawberries, so turned them into chintz.