Please, come back soon!

Gone! A Farmer’s Market without flowers. No gifts from nature patiently waiting to be arranged, put in water and bring a room to life. Half of the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market had no stalls today. The 101 is still closed, so there is no access to Santa Barbara from the South.

Buying flowers is a Saturday morning ritual for me. I have been over the holiday look for several weeks now, looking forward to refreshing my vases and angling towards spring. When it’s over, it’s so over.  The available flowers change with the season, of course. A few people like the diehard,  people- pleasing sunflowers that smile back at them all year-long. You can find these flowers in any grocery store. But those year-round blooms long ago became boring for me. I no longer smile back.

Living in Japan part – time has accentuated my appreciation for the seasonal. Year-long availability for a flower or a fruit makes it much less interesting to my eye. Each season has its long-awaited seasonal celebrity appearances. There are the first flowers of spring. The cheery yellow forsythia branches are not particularly beautiful, but they have the honor of announcing that spring has arrived. A few weeks late the pinklicious Japanese magnolias demand attention. Sweet peas follow soon. In Japan, they sell them with long curling tendrils. So much lovelier than just the straight stem.  Let’s not forget ranunculus, flirty and fabulous and overwhelming in its choice of colors and its lighter than air texture.  Continue reading “Please, come back soon!”

Seasons Turn, Turn

“Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness. Even winter — the hardest season, the most implacable — dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.”
Clive Barker, The Hellbound Heart

The seasonal changes in California are subtle but obvious, if you know where to look. Summer season is now giving way to Autumn.  The fields and hills are a washed out golden brown, parched and even drier than usual, because of the drought.  They’ve looked like this for weeks.   The Farmer’s Markets provides the first clue that time is relentless and there’s a season for everything, turn, turn.

I greet the seasons at the farmer’s market. Embrace the seasons. Mid to late spring, I’m hyped to find the first cherries and don’t care how much I have to pay for them or for lilacs..  Also, get me to the Blenheim apricots. My kitchen will soon be like a scratch ‘n’ sniff paradise as they’re made into jam.

Apricots-Cancler

Summer, sweet corn and tomatoes  keep us company at every dinner table.   I don’t anticipate much in the autumn market, but California winters bring masses of cymbidium orchids, and Pixie tangerines.tangerines

As I entered the weekly Saturday market in Santa Barbara a few days ago, I was first greeted by the delicate musky scent of multitudes of melons. The knowledgeable older woman farmer behind the stand  helps you pick the best ones, if you doubt your selection prowess. Buy several. Indulge.   You’ll be ready for more next week.  Melons are in Prime Time now, but it won’t be too long before they begin to lose their flavor and have to be passed by.

For now, there are still peaches, nectarines and pluots to savor.  Raspberries, blues and blackberries too.  Such abundance.  The fragrant ginger lilies call to me when I first sight them, “take me home.”  They arrange themselves in tall vases.ginger lillies

Oh, the mid-summer grapes are Prime Time too.  Luscious, extravagant  bundles on display that would warm the heart of any self-respecting Roman at an orgy.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.  Li-Young Lee

Strawberries are past prime time.  They’re still available, but not their best and quick to go downhill. The only people buying them now are those who don’t know better.

And you would accept the seasons of your heart just as you have always accepted that seasons pass over your fields and you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.  Kahlil Gibran