I've always considered the pleasures of the farmers market to follow an arc of sorts...a gentle hill if you will. After the scarcity of winter the spring brings, slowly, a limited selection of tender vegetables like ramps, french breakfast radishes, fava beans, peas and asparagus. The fruit is much more reticent, and until June I must make do with stalks of rhubarb (not a true fruit I realize), which I wrestle into submission by making a bracing breakfast compote.
As the season marches on the colors become more brilliant and the selection more varied. The strawberries come, followed by cucumbers, swiss chard and summer squash, and then the avalanche begins. My beloved cherries, sweet and sour, make their brief but exquisite appearance, fragrant peaches come tumbling in (as do the resultant peach crisps and cobblers I end up making when I over-estimate my weekly peach eating capability), blueberries, raspberries, beets. And then, when the heirloom tomatoes and the corn begin to come in, I know the zenith of the season has hit. And I've always assumed that everything after that point is largely downhill until the following spring.
However, this past weekend I realized that I should not be so quick to judge. Rather, we are, as I speak, in a secondary produce peak. Gorgeous apples at Locust Grove are now abundant, autumnal squashes are piled all around the square, plums are tempting me to make tarts and I even spotted the first quince of the season! Placed out in a bowl, these odd fuzzy fruits will gently perfume your home with their sweet floral scent. And if you are ambitious, cooked (please dear god do not attempt to eat them raw), they are a delightful alternative to apples and pears.
But perhaps most exciting of all, the unparalleled James Durr has regained its footing after a brief dry spell with lots of fabulous floral specimens. How does he know that I love those pale green and rust colored hydrangeas so much?
I cannot stand the blue ones, the white I can take or leave, but oh the green...I could not resist them for my bathroom sink.
And I was so swept away by the boughs of purple berries (I cannot even begin to guess what they are), I took a massive bunch home, oblivious to the space constraints of my apartment.
So now I have an arrangement that approximates a small tree sitting on my table. It is wonderfully wild and sprawling, but also makes it a tad difficult to walk into my kitchen and into the living room (not that these are actually separate rooms in my apartment but, well, I like to pretend). As Paul says, it's ridiculous, but also lovely.