Sunday, October 18, 2009

To Everything There Is a Season

As children growing up on a farm, my friends and I were locavores long before the concept of eating locally grown foods in season became trendy.  Fresh tomatoes could only be had from July to mid-October.  After that, it was canned or nothing.  Same with fresh corn, garden peas, butter beans, okra, etc.  Collards, onions and turnip greens in the winter, zucchini and cucumbers in the summer. 

Baby chicks arrived in the mailbox from Sears in the early spring.  By early summer, they were frying size.  By Christmas time, they were roasters; by Easter, they were stewing hens.  I never remember fried chicken in the winter.  It will always be a summer food for me.

Fruit season began with strawberries in the spring; progressed to blueberries, then figs, watermelons, and apples; and ended with pears and scuppernong grapes in late fall.    Oranges and bananas were about the only non-local fruit my mother ever bought.

Except at Christmas.  Tangerines are as much the smell of Christmas to me as cinnamon and pine boughs.  There would be one in everybody’s stocking — proof that Santa had stopped in Florida before coming down our chimney.  I would have been shocked by the smell or taste of tangerines in July or October.

And speaking of October, every year I wait for this season.  It’s the only time I can find fresh candy corn.  Oh, they sell it year ’round now, but haven’t you noticed?  It doesn’t tastes fresh any other time of the year.  Only at Halloween.  Hurry up though.  In another month, it’ll all taste stale.

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