Oh, my, have you seen the calendar? The End of Summer is in sight. Just a few more weeks of long days, brilliant sunshine and warm nights, then Fall ushers in with shorter days, fading sunlight, cooler nights and its lexicon of seasonal ‘F’ words; football, foliage and frost.
The End of Summer also means the end of one of my decadent pleasures, fresh fruit from local farms, especially
sweet, succulent strawberries and big, bold blueberries. Sliced or whole, drop a handful of these tasty morsels on a bowl of your favorite breakfast cereal (Cheerios, for me) and it’s paradise for your palate. Your lips will love you and your taste buds will tingle. How depressing, knowing the ballet in my mouth is about to ‘go dark’ until next year. End of Summer, please linger longer.
The sliced banana is a wonderful addition to my cereal concoction, and according to Wikipedia (the Internet), botanically it’s a berry. By adding a sprinkle of crushed walnuts, my bowl overflows with a cornucopia of colors and textures with the patriotic reds, whites and blues of these three fruits. But, thanks to the End of Summer’s culpable coalition with the calendar, ‘this too shall pass’, at least for the strawberries and blueberries, but not the banana.
What is it with the surviving banana? The banana seems to escape the same demise of the red and blue berries. The banana is always available and the price doesn’t fluctuate. An ‘expert’ proffered that bananas are a fast growing tree so the supply is plentiful and constant. Bananas are a healthy fruit, too, they just don’t measure up on the juicy and sweet scale, as do the others.
I’ve given up picking my own, but every season I recall the times my dad took my sister and me into the mosquito infested brush where wild blueberries thrived. We ate more than we bucketed, but had plenty for a pie, or two. My wife and I often took our kids strawberry picking in the hot sun of local fields where we competed with bees for the biggest berries we could find. What lasting memories these ‘pickin’ times made.
At this moment, the bountiful strawberries and blueberries are disappearing from grocers’ shelves and I find it fruitless to complain. After all, it is a natural change, as the seasons dictate the bounty of the produce we enjoy. Besides, the End of Summer will reward our patience with the start of the apple season. And a good apple will push the strawberries and blueberries to the farthest corner of my mind.
For now, I’ll turn to the iron filled shriveled raisin and its lookalike cousin, the craisin, for my cereal topping. And I must make time to travel south into New York’s wine country along the Finger Lakes to enjoy a unique local treat, grape pie.
End of Summer, after all is said and done, you and Mother Nature are treating us quite nicely.