Mentor is billed as the Rose Capital of the world, named well before the economies of horticulture dictated that it is cheaper to raise roses in South America and fly them up here than raise them in our own backyard. Not only is labor a whole lot less per hour, but no one is quite as finicky about DDT. So while the title still remains on a dilapidated sign on the main drag, there is virtually no sign of the nurseries that used to blanket this area.
Here and there, along the road sides, at the edges of some lawns, peeking their cheery little berry heads up between sidewalk squares, stubborn and chemical resistant are wild strawberries. Tenacious little things, barely raspberry-sized. I don’t know if they are bastardized remnants from the old nurseries or from the wild prairie days. Clearly, no one planted them where they are on purpose. Since their very existence is testament to the fact that they have not been covered with poisons, this morning on my walk I decided to taste one. I rubbed the dust and the hair off, rolling it between my fingers and popped it in my mouth.
I’d like to report that the berry was sweeter than an old memory, but it was not. Not bitter, just not as juicy and flavor-full as the grocery store variety — ill-defined, like an old sepia photograph of a bygone time. Still, I found it encouraging to find plants resistant to suburbiatosis, one of the most toxic substances to all things wild, still bearing fruit.