The arrival of local vegetables defines late spring for me. Last Sunday, I had to drive from Chelmsford back to New Bedford, and I decided to use some back roads instead of getting right on the highway. I found myself driving past Verrill Farm, not far from where we once lived, and I could see that their strawberry plants were in full bloom. That could mean only one thing: it was asparagus time. I pulled into the farmstand.
There it was, right at the entrance to the farmstand. Asparagus: bunches of thin, tender stalks, slightly purple at the base shading into pale green and up to the dark green tips. My mouth started watering as soon as I saw the asparagus.
And rhubarb: long, gently curved stalks, a vivid vermilion with green undertones. I got three or four pounds of it. And early raspberries, horrendously expensive at six dollars for a scant pint, but I had to buy some anyway. And pea tendrils, an odd vegetable to be sure, but I was craving fresh greens so I got some of them, too. And I got some local honey to sweeten up the rhubarb.
So I’ve been eating well all week. I finished the last of the pea tendrils tonight. I’ll go out and get some more asparagus on Friday — none of that tough rubbery asparagus they fly in from California, you have to get it fresh and local, so fresh and tender you don’t even have to cook it. And maybe I’ll get some local lettuce, too.
Soon it will be time for local peas, and all kinds of greens, and then strawberries. And strawberry season marks the beginning of summer.