Monday, April 28, 2008

Vive Le Printemps

Spring is...

...fiddleheads' tight little fists.
...rhubarb hiding under it's giant elephant ears.
...the snap of asparagus' smooth stalk and miniature knobbly point.

...bitter sorrel soup with a smooth velvety finish.
...zipping fingers along the edge of a pod to scoop up the sweet, sugary peas.
...the artichoke, rose of the vegetable patch with it's beautifully shaped "petals", it's unexpected "thorns" and the sweet meat of it's heart. sun and cool air.
...the smell of dirt soaked in rain.

Spring is an awakening of the senses.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Farms on The Horizon

Farms have always had a presence in my life. They are a visible, tangible, taste-able part of my community. I didn't grow up waking to a rooster's morning call, nor did I spend my college years with my hands in the dirt learning how best to grow alliums. Now that I have a family of my own, we aren't labouring day and night maintaining a large field or even a decent sized vegetable patch. Nonetheless, farms have always had a presence for me.
I grew up in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. A small city with a couple of Universities and a large Mennonite community as our neighbours. I have fond memories of going to the farmer's market every Saturday with my parents. I vividly remember being in traffic behind a horse and buggy downtown. I envied the fact that the children had no school during the harvest season (little did I know how hard the work was and that it was perhaps more of a chore than an activity). I also spent two separate sabbatical years at the age of 7 and 12 in France and traveling with my family. We ate what was local and fresh and learned the real value of good, homegrown food.

In college in Montreal, I walked everywhere. I never took the Metro except for regular outings to the Jean Talon market. It was a therapeutic escape from life in little Portugal on the Plateau. The stalls of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs was a refreshing contrast to my local grocery store Warshaws where the freezer section of vegetables and frozen breads ran parallel to some other non-functioning freezer chests full of notebooks with fairies and flowers printed on the cover.

With my family settled in Cambridge, I continue my life as a city dweller trying to keep one foot in the dirt. My daughter and I plant seeds to coax out of their little yoghurt containers full of 1/2 potting soil 1/2 compost from our little Cambridge city composter in the backyard. We visit local farms for our groceries and daily outings. We anxiously await the awakening of the fabulous crops at our Organic CSA Lindentree farms, Thursday evenings at the farm harvesting our share of cherry tomatoes, raspberries, flowers for the table, and picking up the share that was harvested for us that morning. I'm looking forward to having more hours at the farm working to do my part. Isabelle, my daughter, said to me the other day "I can't wait to pick our own beans soon.". Memories of walking with the kids across the fields in the hot sun to pull beans from their stalks in the dry mud. Henry, my son, still a wobbly toddler thoroughly dusted with mud from hair tuft to toe.