Friday, July 8, 2011

Ah, Fresh Veggie Season!

Oh, boy!  Another weekend.  Except now the weather has taken a summer turn, a turn that just about everyone in our region is very happy to see.  At long last, July has brought the pleasant temperatures that seemed to be just washed away in June.  And May.  And April.  And . . .   Mostly sunny, but there is that ever present chance of showers Friday night and perhaps thunder showers Saturday.  But it's the kind of forecast that doesn't say everyone will get them. 

I have a hip, the one crushed back in 2000, that seems to dislike this summer humidity even more than it dislikes the winter's stormy cold. 

The best part of this time of year, though, is the transformation into the fresh veggie season.  Yes, I know that we can get what are called "fresh" in the supermarket all year long.  But most of those 'fresh' veggies are at the very least several days old.  I like the veggies that get picked, prepared, and eaten within just a few hours.  The fewer, the better. 

It was Gator Wife who got me hooked on the fresh vegetable craze.  I had returned to Maine after graduating from university and met GW late in 1960.  Back then, vegetables were vegetables.  I didn't care, actually didn't think about, whether the came from a can, the freezer, or from the loose vegetable aisle in the grocery store. 

Behind her parents' home was a huge vegetable garden.  You name it, the family grew it.  My then-future mother-in-law "put up" enough veggies to feed the family all winter long, all the way into the next season's crop.  The family had begun as farmers in Franklin County so the hard work of a garden was natural to them when they moved to this area during WWII.  The move was needed so GW's dad could find work in the shipyard in South Portland.   When the shipyard closed, they stayed.  Since I eventually met their daughter, I'm glad that was the decision they made.

When I started accepting invites to dinner at their home, I noticed the veggies tasted a "little funny," but I never said anything about that.  I did not know they had come from their own garden.  I don't recall how long it was before I mentioned the taste to my girl friend.  Sbe laughed, thinking it was funny I didn't know the difference between fresh and store bought.  "Wait until next summer," she said.  "You'll really see the difference."

Our lives had begun a dramatic change be the time that summer of '61 arrived.  She was sporting a Cracker Jacks box ring and a date had been set.  And I was part of the family.  Part of that was the expectation I'd join in the gardening.   I did and worked hard (for me) and enjoyed the summer's output.  I'll never forget the first ear of corn I had that was cooked within five minutes of picking and eaten within a half hour or less.  Today we only eat farmer's market or roadside stand corn that was picked the day we bought it.  We have a short corn eating season.

But it wasn't just corn.  I developed a taste for the other absolutely fresh vegetables and that season has now started here at the swamp.  GW continues to plant vegetables here, but I must admit I never did become a farmer.

We're getting lettuce regularly out of out plot.  We've had some beet greens and beets.  The green and yellow string beans will be available, possibly by next weekend.  Our potato plants are three or four feet tall, and we'll have cukes, tomatoes, green peppers, and summer squash soon.  We did not plant corn, but we know a roadside stand nearby that picks it fresh daily once it's ready.  That isn't far away.

So, like this weekend shows, July has turned the tide for our weather and good food.  And I like that change.

I hope you have a super weekend.


No comments: