Families, friends and strawberry fiends head out to the fields each year to stock up on fresh berries for now and later. Many treat the picking season as an annual tradition so they can freeze the berries, bake sweets and eat them fresh out of the pail during the car ride home. The Whitehill family of Duluth came out with friends from their sons’ soccer teams on Tuesday, July 16. The boys ranged from ages 7 to 14 and were thrilled to be picking — and eating — berries straight from the plant. The group intermittently paused to show each other what they claimed was the perfect strawberry. “Look guys, this one is it,” was heard throughout the picking session. Later that day, after soccer practice, the family got together with the same group to make fresh strawberry milkshakes, daiquiris, strawberry shortcake and angel food cake — before they had dinner. The kids raved about their strawberry desserts, then went to burn off their sugary energy with a game of “ghost in the graveyard,” while the adults sat on the porch sipping icy strawberry beverages on the hot, humid evening. The short two- to three-week season encourages people to round up their loved ones and gather to enjoy the summery fruit in all its forms. Like all food, the strawberry has the power to bring people together in our fast paced world for one purpose: to experience a simple joy.