Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grace Under Pressure


From the bean of Green Bean.

It happens every three months or so. I dig in my feet. I get greedy. I cling to the past and resist change.

It occurs most often on a Saturday. I find myself staggering through the market stalls, eyeballing produce and interrogating farmers. "How many more weeks for grapes?" "Is this the last week for watermelons?" "When does strawberry season end?" "Will it really last that long? Last week you said only two more weeks?"

And then I load up.

You'd think a locavore would have a bit more grace. Let the seasons slip through her fingers like grains of sand. Flow like a wind buffeted tree through the endless rotation of fruits and vegetables.

Not this locavore.

The most recent incident occured last weekend. Wheeling my cart past the cheese vendor, I spotted them. Watermelons. Why just last week, Raoul had sadly confided in me that there would be no more watermelon. They were gone until next summer.

"We got one more week's worth," he shrugged when I glared accusingly at him. "I'll take four," I announced, pulling the broccoli, pomegranates, and apples out of my cart to make room for four tight little melons.

After gorging myself on Raoul's fuchsia colored melons for three months, I will admit it. I am sick of watermelon. But who can resist one last hurrah? One last sweet pink bite before nine melon-less months?

Not I.

Or my kids. When I placed a plate of hot pink wedges on the dinner table last night, they turned up their noses. "I don't like watermelon," complained my oldest. My 4 year old promptly echoed his big brother. "That's fine," I replied picking up a wedge. "It's the last of the season any way." You would not know children could move so fast but, within minutes, that last watermelon really was history.

After eighteen months of eating locally, I realize that being a locavore does not instill grace or acceptance. It does, however, teach wonder and appreciation.

It is like so many of the changes I've made in my journey toward a simpler life. Eating watermelon only three months out of the year renders it a special treat. A boundless joy.

Having fewer things makes those we do have more meaningful. We enjoy them more. We take better care of them. We fix and repair. We invent and circumvent.

Having less toys gifts my children imagination and creativity. Boxes become rocket ships. Shoes are submarines. And the lego set we purchased from a school friend is a priceless treasure.

Somewhere along the way, we, as a society, got lost. We thought that having it all would lead to happiness. Truth is, having it all only erodes the value of having. It leaves you with less. Less satisfaction. Less understanding. Less meaning. And less joy.

Clearing that empty plate I realize the plate is not empty at all. It is full of memories. Of pleasure. And the kind of appreciation that comes in knowing that we truly savored those last bites of summer.

13 comments:

Burbanmom said...

Beautiful post, Bean! I've found that "going local" with my food consumption has taught me the importance of appreciating what you have while it's there.

and also the importance of freezing and canning!...

ruchi aka arduous said...

Hahaha. I remember way back when, at the tail end of strawberry season actually uttering the words, "I'm sick of strawberries."

Now I miss them. But at least I get to gorge on apples.

JessTrev said...

I was just telling my son sadly that there won't be any strawberries until next summer (to which his sister said, *and that's a long time!*). He was saying "Dawbees! Like eat dawbees." I struggle with eating local with little people. I definitely break down in between seasons, don't 100% buy local. But we are definitely moving in that direction. Love your reflections on how meaningful it can be.

SusanB said...

How timely. We ate our last fresh peaches for breakfast this morning, and only one nectarine left. Guess we'll have to start eating apples . . .

Green Bean said...

Burbs: Oh yes! The freezing and canning for sure. One way to get a child who "hates" pomegranates is to sit next to him, de-seeding (or whatever you call it) 7 of them for the freezer. Low and behold, pomegranates are actually pretty tasty stuff.

Ruchi: Isn't that funny? I'm sick of a bunch of things. But give me a few months and I'll be missing them - even as, like you, I gorge on the next season's offerings. It's almost perfectly timed, isn't it.

Jess: We let the occasional banana slip in but only very occasional. I'm super lucky in that I can get anything local in California, even bananas and mangoes! That said, I do think it creates a certain magic, a sense of seasons for the kids. Just this morning, they were talking about orange season and wondering when the mandarins will start coming in.

Susanb: Hear, hear. We've been eating apples here and there but I think we're moving into hard core apples until the citrus shows up.

Carmen said...

is is a really beautiful post. Your last two paragraphs are so eloquent and so spot on.

Thanks.

Amber said...

I haven't preserved anything this year (still a newbie to this whole locavore, grow and put up your own thing) beyond freezing some rhubarb and shredded zucchini from the garden, one teeny jar of homemade pesto, tomatillos and cranberries from the market, but to me they are precious treasures that I will savour and be sooo grateful for, come the middle of winter here in Canada!
Thank you for this lovely post.

FoodieTots said...

I am so envious of your watermelon. Just last night my little one opened the fridge to pick out an apple, then handed it to me and said, "No, I need watermelon!" At two, he doesn't quite grasp the seasonal constraints on what's in the house... Lovely post.

CindyW said...

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I did the same thing with peaches. I ate and ate and ate until I was either going to pass out or self combust. That was my way of dealing with the prospect of missing my favorite stone fruit for months.

The all-year round availability of semi-crappy fruit dulls one's pallet and desire. It kills the "romance" with food :)

Siel said...

I'm so hitting the farmers' market tomorrow! After your post, I'm really, really craving strawberries. And watermelon.

Green Bean said...

Carmen: Thank you so much.

Amber: Ahh, how precious those things that you did preserve will be. I was pretty new last year and didn't preserve much of anything (other than jam). The few dried strawberries I had were treasured in January - despite the tasteless berries stocked at the local whole foods and flown in from Chile.

Foodietots: I know. Kids don't really understand but one year in, mine (almost 4 and almost 6) are getting into the swing of things. Last spring, my then 3.5 picked up a watermelon flavored honey stick at the farmers' market and said NOT GOOD! Watermelon is not in season.

CindyW: "kills the romance". That is exactly what it does. Nothing is special anymore.

Siel: Oh you lucky dog. You're south of me and may yet have a few weeks of watermelon left.

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