We are easing into the deepest expanse of summer here in The Valley. At the farmers market, there are still signs of earlier crops - an occasional grower that has found a way to shelter his lettuce through the fiercest heat of July and the reappearance of strawberries from ever bearing plants - but the full bounty of the sun-drenched season is now on display, nearly toppling over the market tables.
That means onions and carrots share space with peaches, apricots, and nectarines. Early plums and apples have appeared. Pickling cucumbers and all manner of summer squash fill baskets in dizzying numbers. Heirloom tomatoes in wild colors and designs are proudly displayed and the poor hot-house growers (who were so valued in the cooler months) are passed by for field grown treasures. The harvest is staggering.
July was a whirlwind of constant garden care, due to the surprisingly lengthy heat wave. We are used to hitting or hovering close to the 100 degree mark for a week or so in July, but this year we've had a three week heatwave that has only just today allowed a storm system to creep in and drop a minuscule amount of rain. The cloud cover has blessedly encouraged a brief drop in temperature, and while the evenings of the last several weeks refused to let the heat go as dusk settled in, we are finally experiencing some cooler nights.
Last night there was a small First Harvest celebration at my friend's farm, where we tasted the first corn of her crop (the very crop that was just thigh-high two weeks ago in the last post!) The corn is tender and perfect, but not quite as sweet or full as my friend would like it, and so the first real picking for public consumption will happen later this coming week. It's miraculous what some water and sun will do to that field in just a few days.
Whether the corn was up to her standards or not, we had a grand time last night moaning over the kernels popping in our mouths, butter dripping off our lips. There was talk of the harvests of our lives, and seasons passing, and of how many years we'd been gathering as friends to cheer each other on, or simply hold each other up.
There will be another feast yet. When the corn is good and ready, we'll invite not just our closest friends, but throw the gates wide and welcome all who want to take part in the celebration of the culmination of another planting season. There will be corn fritters, and corn chowder, and my friend's spicy tequila butter sauce for those who like their corn on the cob with a little kick. I'll be sure to share the recipes!
In the between time, before we notice the sumac start to turn from deepest green to blazing red, while we still run to the lakes for respite and eat entire meals around a bbq (or right out of the garden,) I'm wishing you a grand First Harvest, Lughnasadh, Lammas, or whatever observance you might be enjoying at the moment.
Even if it is simply the celebration of the perfect cob of corn!