A note on Summer Writing Club: if you are joining and you want stickers, email me (or dm on twitter @torturedpotato) your address and I will send you incentivizing stickers IN THE MAIL to put on your calendar for every week you complete.

Also, my 15 minutes a day will not necessarily be here on the blog, I just seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment. I COMMIT TO NOTHING I REMEMBER LAST YEAR.


This afternoon I once again took the kids across the street to the middle school to practise their scooter skills. Yesterday I was looking after an additional child so I felt like I should pay attention, but today it was just my two. I brought my notebook because watching children scooter is only interesting the first four times. Yay you popped a wheelie, yay you squatted down real low and scraped your toes on the cement, yay kids yay.

After I’d written roughly one paragraph in my notebook, I noticed the scooter noise had stopped and I had their full attention. (It’s good to know this is a way to get the full attention of children.)

“What are you writing?” Eli said. “I know, a story,” he added, “but what’s it about?”

He does this a lot, answers his own questions in a rush to have the right answer.


“Actually,” I said, “it’s not a story. It’s just some thoughts about strawberries.”

“What about them?”

“About how they smell so much like strawberries,” I said. “And how I wonder if there are people who don’t know what real, fresh strawberries in season smell like, if they only know about the artificial strawberry smell, like, um,…”

“..Strawberry Shortcake dolls…” Arlo suggested.

I make them sniff my Strawberry Shortcake doll every time it turns up in the toybox at my parents’ house, and each time, I marvel this has smelled vaguely like strawberry scent for THIRTY YEARS you guys.


“…or erasers?” Arlo said.


“Yes. Maybe there are older people who only know what real strawberries smell like, because Strawberry Shortcake dolls aren’t something they’ve ever seen. And maybe there are lots of younger people who compare the smell of real strawberries to strawberry candy and to them, the strawberries smell wrong.”

“I like candy,” Eli said. “Can you read me some of your writing?”

“No,” I said. “It’s not really ready to read out loud. It’s kind of like a journal.”

“OK,” he said, then, “hey watch this,” and scootered away.


9 thoughts on “Strawberries

    1. branch Post author

      OMG everyone she’s after my shoes! Val they are Keens, rescued from the clearance bin of Winners last year. So very comfortable.

  1. Zen Render

    I remember in 88 I had an exchange student from Sri Lanka in my class, and she was being hosted by a close friend of mine, so I got to know her pretty well. Two things I remember very clearly about her:

    1) Sarcasm was completely lost on her. She just didn’t get it. At all.
    “Everyone should camp in my back yard this weekend, it’ll be fun.”
    “Including me?”
    “No, not you. Everyone but you…”

    “Nononoono! I’m kidding! Of *course* you too.”
    “Why would you *say* such a thing if it wasn’t true?”

    2) She’d never seen strawberries bigger than the last joint of her thumb before. Sounds like they were mostly frozen/chopped, or grape-sized for easy travel. When Summer came, and the baskets of big honkin’ elbow-sized KA-FREAKIN’ *STRAWBERRIES* started showing up on kitchen counters, she literally didn’t know what they were, and when we told her, she thought we were “making fun of the Sri Lankan girl.” When she was finally convinced to eat one, she bit half of it off, and we watched, amazed, as tears welled up in her eyes. She talked for almost five minutes about the flavour before eating the other half (and then the rest of the basket, happy-crying the whole time.)

    1. Zen Render

      That should have read:

      “No, not you. Everyone but you…”
      “Nononoono! I’m kidding! Of *course* you too.”
      {Remember kids, only html tags get to use angle brackets}

  2. L.

    1. SHOES. Those are great shoes.

    2. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE. I have one of the shortcake’s friends mini dolls (I think it was worn as part of a ring or necklace?), and it STILL smells (peaches) almost thirty years later. What are you, mysterious vinyl additive with amazing staying power?

    3. STICKERS. Yes please I’d like some. I need to send you a CD or something. I’ve been bad about real life mail. And internet mail. All the mail, basically.

    1. branch Post author

      ..and the place in my head where the Strawberry Shortcake Doll jingle resides, which place I would rather have be a vacant lot because my head *needs* more vacant lots and way fewer jingles from the ’80s.

  3. Nicole

    I don’t have any of my Strawberry Shortcake dolls but now I wish I had. I loved Apricot. Actually I loved all of them. It’s a wonder I don’t have brain damage from childhood doll sniffing.

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