Have you hugged an Oregon berry today?

To date, I think the best strawberry I’ve ever had was a dainty alpine variety picked from a Virginia field; as if eating the berry wasn’t enough of a sensory experience, its fragrance was so intense that a few small boxes of the fruit perfumed my entire car in minutes.

Those Virginia berries had it easy, though. Like other Pacific Northwest denizens, Oregon berries spend a lot of the summer shivering in the cold and fending off the rain—which the Oregon Strawberry Commission cleverly spins as a plus:

Unlike strawberries from other regions around the globe, Oregon strawberries hang on the vine longer, resulting in a gradual ripening process that develops the sugars more fully so they taste significantly better and have a more vibrant red color throughout.

In a study by Oregon State University’s Food Science and Technology Department, Oregon strawberries outperformed California varieties in all measures of taste and nutritional quality. Oregon berries had the highest levels of total sugars; higher marks for overall fruit quality and aroma; and higher levels of anthocyanin, a potentially powerful antioxidant.”

Now between spending tobacco money and plugging ham and peanuts, Virginia doesn’t care if you love THEIR berries.

Oregon, however…Oregon wants to win you over to their berries with low-key, subtle messaging:

Click to visit the Oregon Strawberry Commission's recipe- and tip-containing website

Putting my wistful memories of wee alpine goodness aside, there’s no denying Oregon farmers produce a quality, red-all-the-way-through berry. [This color consistency really is so much more aesthetically pleasing than the white-centered design common to California and Florida strawberries, no?]

c. The Oregon Strawberry's FACEBOOK page

With the clock ticking down on the extremely short growing season and our own berry starts looking pretty much identical to the day they were planted, Mr Vix and I hit the fields this weekend to pick glorious, antioxidant-laden strawberries…and blueberries…and raspberries:

A crappy photo since I'm wallowing in at least 2/7 deadly sins with freshly-picked Oregon berries: Hood, Puget Reliance, and Honeoye strawberries + Duke blueberries + Meeker raspberries

Enthusiasm comes easier when picking is a novelty vs a job.

While I was planning another few farm visits before the fields were plucked bare, now I’m thinking I should do more to support an industry that’s seen a shocking contraction in the last decade. Here I’ve been taking our strawberries for granted, and they’re doing more upstream swimming than the region’s salmon.

[L]ike so much of the natural Northwest, the Oregon strawberry is endangered.

The crop has plummeted from 100 million pounds in 1988 to 32 million last year, according to the Oregon Agricultural Statistics Service. Strawberry acreage harvested peaked at 18,300 in 1957, dropping to 3,000 in 2002 and just 2,300 [in 2005.]”

Suddenly I’m all SCARED BY THE SCARCITY.

Though I admit I’m still mystified by the scrambling. I mean whether they’re in a pint box or processed, berries are one of the things Oregon does best. Strawberry. Blackberry. Huckleberry. Loganberry. Marionberry. Boysenberry. Blueberry. Raspberry. BLACK Raspberry. Tayberry.

Maybe we need Christopher Guest to get behind the cause?

Given our state’s current crisis, I want to encourage non-Oregonians to support their local berry farmers. Work that ounce/prevention, folks!

Just make sure to keep Oregon’s berry-laden jams and delicious berry syrups in mind, too. Because if you’ve never tasted a pacific huckleberry, you’re REALLY missing out.

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Raspberry Sorbet Blouse

Since I am a bit of a Luddite and way too impetuous and lazy to sew, I am very non-ironically BLESS YOUR HEART about the clothing studio-plus-store combo platter. Even if the owner’s style doesn’t work with mine, it makes me feel all Laura Ingalls at Oleson’s General Store to wander in and see bolts of gorgeous fabric, a pile of cut out pieces, and someone old enough to vote beavering away at a sewing machine.

God forbid the owner’s style does work with mine, though, as things can get dangerous.

Case in point: the Tactile-Oriented Technician’s studio/store, which always seems to be full of beautifully crafted items in handsome, silky, beautifully draping lightweight wools and spry cottons. While her wares make it quite difficult to keep my straight skirt/flounced hem addiction in check*, at least I’m usually fairly immune to her lovely blouses. Since I’m not really a blouse woman and all.

But a few months ago I happened to spy some okay DARLING fabric in the store.

[Yes: in case “flounced hem” wasn’t enough of a giveaway, I admit I clearly have some über girlygirl leanings that show up in my wardrobe every now and again. Does indulging those tendencies counteract my misanthropy? No. But I find a ruffle here and a DIY-pink shoe there helps disguise it.]

Between the fabric’s itty bitty iridescent polka dots and the fact that it would push me away from my all VaderWear, all the time ensembles, I caved and ordered the blouse. Once it arrived, I’d like to say I jumped right back into wearing my closet’s sunset shades together in one non-neutral, mega-vivacious swoop—but I’m afraid I’m still in recovery from that experiment. Instead, I went for a road-well-traveled-by-Jen-Aniston look and paired RSB with brown, denim and a belt.

I did let the tulips hang out with purple, though:

Raspberry Sorbet Blouse + two tulip lovers

Raspberry Sorbet Blouse with Jen Aniston circa-forever jeans + belt look...and farmer's market tulips

You can’t tell, but RSB has darts to help contour and beautifully finished seams. Plus the Tactile-Oriented Technician adapted the fit to be more flattering. All for around the price of a typical “nicer mall store” blouse.

Crazy, I know.

Detail shot of Raspberry Sorbet Blouse + (2 double-stranded) teal-centric handmade necklaces from Anneliese's on-hiatus Etsy.com shop

As an aside, I really wanted to call this my Cherries in the Snow Blouse in honor of Kay Daly’s infamous line for the shade’s original 1953 campaign: “Who knows the black-lace thoughts you think while shopping in a gingham frock?”

Especially as 36-year-old Dorian Leigh starred in the ad.

Unfortunately, while I could overlook that polka dots do not equal gingham, the color was too far off for me to feel comfortable giving the blouse namesake status. [Hopefully the original print ad matched the lip and nail color better than this version….]

But regardless, here’s to Kay, who spent her youth writing some of Revlon’s most golden copy and died (at only 55!) a top Revlon executive. She understood that in the US, anyway, the madonna/whore complex is a societal truth that may or may not be internalized, but always deserves mocking:

I think women had a lot more humor about themselves at that time than advertisers gave them credit for. The things that I did for Revlon I always did sort of tongue-in-cheek, feeling that women would be amused.” **

Ms Daly, this good-girl blouse and studded-leather belt pairing is for you. Because you understand that I’m “a trifle shy, but oh-so-warm…and just a little reckless, deep inside…as strange and unexpected as cherries in the snow.”

Studded leather belt to signal to others that YO, beware my rad Tae Bo moves

* A few of the Tactile-Oriented Technician’s flounced-hem skirts that I’ve brought home over the past several years: Grey with striped flounce and Brownish-Plum wool/mohair

** Read more about Kay Daly and Revlon’s marketing strategies in Andrew Tobias’ Fire and Ice: The Story of Charles Revson – the Man Who Built the Revlon Empire.