I love summer; I think it's the school teacher in me, retired or not. Something inside smiles when the last day of school rolls around; it's hard to undo 30 plus years of that delicious taste of freedom.
Summer means digging my toes in the sand, dribbling butter from crab legs running down my cheeks, long lazy days, and more. It's watching one of the twits catching his first fire fly.
And, if it's summer, it means farmers' markets.
I don't know what's not to like - listening to the peach man sing to the crowd, cajoling us to taste, just taste summer's goodness. The smell of basil and ripe tomatoes; tasting just picked this morning melons. It's deciding - via taste testing, of course - which flavor of honey might be best for this evening's barbeque sauce.
And, the colors...the colors just sing, and I take shot after shot after shot after shot.
Just a week or so ago, I read an article in the Washington Post about how these markets are scrambling a bit to change, morphing into something new to accommodate the wants of today's generation. According the Post writers, today's consumers don't much want to cook; they see the market as a social event. It's a place to grab a fresh cup of coffee along with a pastry. They want to grab tonight's dinner, pre-made and ready to pop into the oven for reheating.
And, I can see this in some ways, much of it depending on the market I visit. (We're blessed to have quite a few in this area.) I've been known to grab the most delicious quiche at one of them; the same market offering everything from sandwiches to ribs and more. But others, like the one pictured above, focus more on locally grown produce, and it's here where we go most often.
This past Saturday, we took along two fairly sleepy twits, and as we entered the market, one stopped dead in his tracks and announced, "I've never seen so much food in one place outdoors!" One planted himself by the peaches, inhaled loudly, and sighed in bliss; the other waxed poetic about cucumbers. Each got to help choose a few pieces of his favorite.
Then, Grandpa put them to work with the corn. After a bit of brief show and tell to induct them into the process, we let them have at it, and they approached the task with utter seriousness.
Until it happened.
Twit #2 paused briefly, pointed to an ear of corn, and asked, "Grandpa, what's this?"
Very calmly, Grandpa answered, "It's a worm."
In the time it takes for you or me to blink, that ear of corn morphed into a heat seeking rocket streaking through the sky.
"A worm?" Definite quivering in his voice.
"Yep, don't worry. They pretty much taste like chicken."
Two very startled twits looked at their Grandpa, horror plainly etched onto their faces. There were worms in their food? The food we were planning to take home to eat? And, how did he know worms tasted like chicken?
Now, I have to admit something here. Grandpa and I didn't act like responsible adults at first; we stood there and laughed. Reality had indeed intruded, and let's face it, it's not often we manage to jolt both twits into complete stillness and silence at the same time.
As soon as we could, we reassured both twits that tonight's dinner would be worm-less. Pulling themselves together, both boys went back to their tasks, albeit, a bit more gingerly and carefully.
When we got home, both boys gamely helped Grandpa to shuck the corn. They inhaled the berries, peaches, and cucumbers, a sort of all day feast occurring.
But, you know what?
I don't think either of them ate any corn.