Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

Fresh Berries - Essay from Newsletter 115

To every thing

Saturday surprises

Each Saturday morning during the summer I walk to Shaker Square to the Farmer’s Market and check out what people have.

A couple of weeks ago everyone suddenly had asparagus. So I’ve been grilling, broiling, blanching and finishing in oil and lemons, and a variety of other treatments for asparagus.

Will I get sick of them?

No, the season is short. By the time I’m getting tired of them something else will take their place.

Last week the first strawberries of the season appeared.

The fruit CSA I belong to said that they should have enough to sell us a quart. If we ordered two quarts we had to be prepared for them not to be able to fill the order. In a couple of weeks they’ll have all that we can handle. A couple of weeks after that and they’ll be gone.

I was able to buy a second quart in person and then, with two quarts of strawberries, headed over to the stand that sells milk in returnable glass bottles and bough milk to make yogurt with.

Strawberries on top of yogurt. It’s a moment in the morning where I clear my mind and take a break and just enjoy a bowlful of simple joy.

What a waste it would be to eat something so good while distracted and not realize it’s gone until you dip your spoon for one more spoonful only to notice its gone.

The berries will be gone for the year before we know it. It’s important to live in the moment that we are eating them.

The Seasons

Every once in a while I contemplate leaving Ohio.

Friends in California encourage me to move there and there are times when I’m tempted.

There are serious problems in Ohio and our legislature instead is fighting the will of the people and the state constitution to not draw fair redistricting maps to keep themselves in power.

What are they doing with this power? Well, in addition to making it easier to carry a concealed weapon, last week they voted to allow child athletes to be challenged and have to prove their gender with genital inspections.

So that’s the state I live in.

But California doesn’t have seasons. Not like Ohio. My friends there can bike all year long. A side of me says that that would be nice. Another side loves that moment in March when I can first get on a bike and ride it again.

It’s forty degrees and I have to wear gloves but I’m back on a bike and the seasons have changed.

The next week it’s twenty again, then eighty, then thirty, but it’s bike season and now and then I can get back on the bike and go for a ride.

The fruit and vegetables in California are amazing and for longer - but I don’t know that they appreciate each bite the way I do.

They complain when it’s fifty and put on a heavier coat than I do when it’s twenty here.

The time

I don’t know why people read the passage from Ecclesiastes at funerals.

I was asked to read it at Bob’s memorial last year. “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

It may be the next line, “A time to be born, and a time to die.”

I know it was a very difficult verse to read. First of all, it’s hard to read it without falling into the rhythm of the song. Second, it just doesn’t read naturally. You can’t sound as if you’re just speaking the words (partly because those listening will begin to hear it as a spoken version of the song).

One of my favorite stories about Elena is when she was four or five and we were in the grocery store in March or April.

As we were checking out the produce a woman smiled at Elena and said to her, “maybe if you’re good your dad will buy you some of these strawberries.”

Elena shook her head and told the woman, “my dad doesn’t buy fruit out of season.”

The woman looked at her, looked at me, looked back at Elena and decided she’d met her match and walked away.

That story still makes me smile nearly twenty years later.

What also makes me smile is the taste of fresh strawberries that I washed and cut and served on yogurt and uncooked thick oats this morning.

They are unbelievable sweet and taste exactly like a strawberry should - fresh off the farm this weekend.

The next few weeks there will be strawberries everywhere. And then blueberries.

To everything there is a season.

Sure we can eat things out of season, but there is something so special about walking to the farmer’s market and buying strawberries from the farmer who grew them and serving them over yogurt made from milk from a local dairy.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 115. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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