Once upon a time I wasn't aware of seasons. I was aware of the weather seasons - it's pretty hard not to notice that part of the year it was snowing and part of the year it was really really hot - but not aware of food seasons. When you can get strawberries any time of the year, why would you ever think that there was such thing as a strawberry season? Aren't they always available? And if they're not actually growing out of the ground, then there's some magical storage place that can keep them indefinitely so that I can have strawberries on my pancakes in January.
I knew that sometimes you couldn't get cherries but I wasn't quite sure why that was. Sometimes there are cherries and sometimes there aren't. That just how cherries are - much more finicky than the always available strawberry.
Then I moved to countries that were very far away from Chile and California. Egypt wasn't too bad - tomatoes grow in the field in January - but there were still definitely seasons. Mango season, the best season in the entire world, only comes once a year, so when those green globes of happiness start appearing, you'd better eat them until you are sick.
Baku was more restricted than Cairo, but they still access to a warmer climate - Iran - to stretch out their seasons.
But Dushanbe, well, it's a little isolated. It's so isolated, in fact, that it costs on average twenty-five percent more to ship things here than any other country in the world. They do have access to produce shipped in from Afghanistan, but last time I checked, Afghanistan wasn't really known as the California of Central Asia.
We moved here in November, pretty much the end of any growing season. I prepared for this by shipping lots and lots and lots of canned tomatoes. You can actually buy tomatoes year-round - evidently tomatoes are a staple food everywhere in the entire world (what did they do before Columbus?) - but they get pretty expensive and pretty mealy in the middle of winter.
For our fruit neds, we have been existing on oranges and apples since November. In the fall I could find some kiwi and pears, but they've been long gone for quite some time. As the winter has progressed, the apples have gotten mealier and mealier and the oranges mushier and mushier. Even though I made sure the children got some fruit with lunch, I stopped eating apples when they practically fell to pieces at the touch of a knife.
Then, finally, at the end of April, the strawberries started appearing. A few years ago I decided that my luxury food item isn't nice cuts of meat, seafood, or fancy cheeses, it's in season fruits and vegetables. When strawberries only come once a year, I don't care how much they cost, I'm eating strawberries until I can't stand the sight of them any more.
Strawberry season is about at its end, but that's okay. Because we're in the middle of apricots - oh how I love fresh apricots - and cherries. Just this week I've bought four kilos of cherries alone. When we first saw apricots while out for a hike, I bought two kilos on Monday. They were gone by Tuesday afternoon. Soon come plums, followed by peaches, then apples and pomegranates, grapes and pears. I've been mentally mapping all of the blackberry patches in the neighborhood and watching the buds and then flowers appear, counting the months until blackberry season.
Some friends have a mulberry tree in the yard. They are gone for the summer, so were happy to lend us their keys. The children and I made our first trip to pick on Thursday. After all of the eating, we picked and froze a gallon. On Saturday I took Brandon and we picked a gallon and a half more. I have plans for another trip this week. Because who can turn down free fruit?
I know that in a few months all of the delicious abundant summer produce will be gone and we'll be back to bleak winter mealy apples and mushy oranges. But right now it's the season of abundant deliciousness. Mealy apples are a distant memory and a theoretical future. Now is the time of never ending fresh, tasty produce. Time to eat until we black out.