It’s farmers market season again in these parts, one of my favorite details about summer. The kids are waiting for me to take them strawberry picking, then to the blueberry orchards, then apples, peaches, raspberries – whatever Michigan fruit is ripe enough to slide off the vines or bushes or low-growing trees and take a quick, juicy bite.
This morning sounds like I remember the orchards. My office window is open enough so that I can feel the cool sunrise air kiss my fingers. The white noise of nearby highways sounds almost like a river. I’ve seen the sky go from hazy-lavender to morning blue to streaks of pink to sunrise.
Last night, Eliana came scurrying into my room, afraid of the pop and crack of the fireworks. “I can’t SLEEP!” she wailed. Neither could I, but that’s nothing new. For when, at the end of a bustling, interesting day, I finally lay my head against the pillow, it’s time alone with myself and I suppose I don’t quite want to rush through that.
My tender little girl spent most of last night in my bed, despite several attempts to return her to her pink room. Her blond bob tilted in my direction, her round cheeks soft as I lightly graced her face with my fingers. So sweet.
Last weekend, I strolled along the Portland Saturday Market, eyeing mountains of purple-green artichokes like cool sunbursts, a stack of carrot points, pints of delicately sweet Mt. Hood strawberries whose flavor bursts on the tongue. I stood in a long line for perhaps the best tart I’ve ever eaten – a creamy-smooth mix of gorgonzola cheese, spinach, and mushrooms, whipped with eggs and just the right spices into a beautifully formed crust. It was art.
Many budding restaurateurs begin their careers at Portland’s Saturday Market, like Mark Doxtader, who for eight years trucked a wood-fire oven there every Saturday morning to bake pizza, bread and rustic desserts – and later, hugely-popular wood-fired baked bagels.
Just last week, Doxtader opened a restaurant called Tastebud (www.tastebudfarm.com), so boosted was he by his rousing market success.
That doesn’t quite happen here.
Still, this Sunday I anticipate strolling among tables of chard, tomato and just-picked strawberries at the Birmingham Farmers Market, sipping a steaming cup of coffee, and watching the little stream trickle along behind the inevitable musician.
The children will be with their father, but if they were with me, Asher would sink his teeth into a tomato and let the juices trickle down his chin. Shaya would taste just about everything I let him put into his mouth. And they’d all demand a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice mixed with fresh-made lemonade, take three sips, and render it finished.
Asher, Eliana, and Shaya would also help pick just the right everything for the coming week. Maybe one night after, we’d make pizza like we haven’t done in months – the children rolling out their portions of dough, lathering on their favorite Don Pepino pizza sauce, and sprinkling atop the various fixings we’d chopped, sliced, and diced.
The best thing about summer is the freshness of flavors. Everything budding, working its way toward ripe, the promise of long days and peaceful nights on the kiss of the wind.
No hurry to get anywhere fast.
The perfect touch of warm air on skin. The tickle of grass under bare feet. And long afternoons on the backyard swing, children squealing in and out of a spinning sprinkler, happiness like a ray of unbreakable light streaking across my world.