For me, the things that truly mark summer’s start are the first farmers’ market and the first bowl of gazpacho. Each Saturday from June until October, there is a marvelous farmers market near my home. Early in the morning, I ride my scooter over to stock up on the week’s offerings. I feel quite continental carrying my basket through the market, examining the displays of flowers and produce, finally arriving at my favorite farmer’s stand. There, a line of customers snakes around the surrounding stalls, patiently waiting for his wares. The baskets overflow with colorful masses of corn, beans, peppers, lettuces and of course, tomatoes. The sight of the first ripe tomatoes of the season is enough to make my mouth water. I scoop up as many vegetables as I can carry in my saddlebags and head for home.
My inner barcelonina delights in the chopping of the peppers, the whirling of the tomatoes in the blender, the tearing of my eyes as I chop the Bermuda onion. Mind you, the closest I’ve been to Spain is watching Pedro Almadovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. That doesn’t stop my daydream of sitting on a balcony, sipping sangria and eating bowlfuls of chilly gazpacho as I watch passersby in the square below.
But it’s only early spring here in the Sierras, too soon for the first taste of summery tomatoes. We had a dusting of snow just weeks ago. I have no balcony, only a brick patio still covered with the leaves and dust of winter storms. Still, the air has been warming each day and tulips have poked out of the dry soil to raise their blooms to the welcome sunlight. Seed catalogs arrive daily, tempting me with their glossy photos of bountiful harvests. “Soon,” they promise. I pour a glass of sangria and toast the sunshine.