April 29, 2012

Changing Seasons

Surprise! Let the summer harvest begin.
There is something magical about the changing of the seasons. From sluggish, hot, ill-tempered summer (too negative?), which beckons us to ice-cold treats, to breezy autumn with its perfect nights and spiced cakes and butternut squash and ciders... Watching the trees let go of their leaves as they fade into the early evenings of winter, when a warm oven puts forth its best work. From chilly mornings that call for a pea coat and a hot cup of coffee to spring, glorious spring: Wherein everything and everyone is rejuvenated, and every recipe calls for asparagus, or leeks, or both.

Here we are, welcoming summer once again. As I type, I feel sweat beads sitting on my legs and am staring out at a summer garden my grandfather would be proud to call his own.

I once read that as a vegetable gardener, you grow accustomed to eating with the seasons—and that after you've eaten one specific vegetable for an entire season, it will take a while before you crave it again. So much so, that when someone suggests you pick up zucchini at the grocery store in December, you wrinkle your nose and gently remind them that it's time for broccoli and arugula instead.

After a few full seasons of gardening (and getting a sizable crop from our backyard), I understand this.

Now that the tomatoes are setting blooms and the cucumbers boast tiny fruits on their vines, covered in bumps (or burps?), I am ready to feed my craving. The season's first zucchini tasted of summer; I am so ready to sit in the backyard with my family and friends and enjoy the season's harvest. I look forward to the more creative recipes that will come by the end of the season; squash lasagna and pattypan pie and chocolate zucchini cake... And more.

I look forward to growing tired of what's growing in our beds; I look forward to uttering the phrase, "Oh, how I long for a brassica!"

Eating with the seasons brings joy to my heart. I hope it does to yours, too.

So bring it on, summer! While I know that 100 degrees is not far off, I am so grateful for the fruits that produce this time of year. I will happily harvest all the squash I can handle, all the cucumbers I can pickle, and the tomatoes I can... can. Or, at the very least, enjoy whatever our plants so generously put forth.