Monday, June 22, 2009

Second Summer

I usually post on the major days of the Wheel of the Year, but given that the Solstice fell on Father's Day this year I was busy taking my dad out to lunch and then making the long drive back to Minneapolis.

So my Solstice thoughts arrive a day late.

There was no way to miss summer's arrival. Stepping out of the door this morning was akin to slipping into a warm bath. Steamy, languid summer air has arrived, that heavy air you could drown in. Not having spent time in the south I don't know if the stereotype of life moving slowly there is true, but on days like this one I can imagine everything slow down as a matter of necessity. The thick, wet air forces you to wade from one activity into another. Speed becomes impossible. Even deadly.

I don't enjoy extreme heat, but I respect its insistence and in light of the Solstice, it feels appropriate.

The other harbinger of summer received my delighted yip at the market.

Heirloom tomatoes. I love earth-fresh tomatoes, and particularly heirlooms. I love their bizarre, asymmetrical shapes and their sharp, leafy scent. And their deliciousness is marked by how briefly they are available.

At the end of Neil Gaiman's latest blog post, he declares that out of season strawberries should be illegal. Now I'm already a loyal Gaiman subject, but he couldn't be more justified in this opinion.

Those of us in the northern climes face a barren winter of vegetables and fruit. Strawberries in winter are a mockery of the real thing. The closest I can come to describing their taste is "nothing with an edge of tart." I'll confess that I still break down and buy them when I'm mired in January or February - the dream of a real strawberry and luscious summer proves too hard to resist. But always, always it's a horrible disappointment that makes winter that much more painful.

When I was a little girl I would crawl through the grass on hot summer days, face low to the ground seeking the wild strawberry plants that would vine out on the lawn. These tiny treasures, no larger than a thimble, are still the sweetest red berries I've tasted.

Welcome summer, I've been waiting. Here's an anthem for you.

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