This past week we pulled out the last of the cherry tomatoes and summer squash. I say good riddance! We’re tired of the hot sun and the flavors that go with it. We long for cool days, leafy greens, and crisp carrots. We’re hungry for fall.
I can remember when I first started buying food directly from local farmers. I was confused and frustrated by the notion of eating only what was in season. How could I possibly eat cucumbers for weeks and then not eat them again for months? What if I felt like eating broccoli in February, or peaches in November? At first, I dabbled and bought a few choice items from the farmers, then headed over to the grocery store to buy the out-of-season items on my list. Within a year or two, something changed dramatically.
I stopped craving peaches in November. They were hard, not juicy, and only a faint shadow of the heaven that a ripe peach could be. I couldn’t even look at a recipe for asparagus until spring was near. I wanted asparagus that was bright green, smelled of new grass, and tasted bright. Food that had traveled far and sat on shelves tasted bland and made me feel tired. Produce picked ripe and eaten right away was full of flavor and gave me energy. There was no going back.
In a world where we have access to anything at anytime, why would you choose to do without? Sometimes, I find, doing without is the only way to a richer experience. Our friends joke that Gordon and I live in the #houseofrestraint, but seriously, there’s intrigue and beauty in not having something you want and then, finally, finding it or earning it. This may not be true for everyone, but I’m like a 5-year-old: dessert is definitely more delicious if I don’t have it after every meal. A new pair of shoes is way more special if I wait and wait for just the right ones. A trip is far more exciting if I’ve been planning it for months (or maybe even years). There’s the short-term thrill of fulfillment but also the long, satisfying pleasure of anticipation.
This anticipation is one of my favorite things about farming. While you wait for something you want, your senses come alive. You feel keenly aware of changes in the natural world: the way the air smells, the sound of night bugs, the morning dew. The whole world is waiting with you. We’re still a week or two away from harvesting the first of the fall carrots. When, at last, we taste that first carrot—a true fall carrot, sweetened by cold weather—it will be so crisp and so perfect. It’ll be worth the wait.