the beginning of a year is marked by seeds being planted, germinating on top of a dresser. a cat bathing in the sun, swatting at the little cardboard pods to test their resilience.
only one survives to maturity, a basil plant, growing taller than expected. for now, it is only useful for garnishing pasta but success is measured by the strength of the stems, not the speed of development.
there is not much to do during this time while the air is still cold, not yet warm enough to go outside, but at least the window is open. produce is still uninspiring—squash, mushrooms, potatoes—but when eyes are closed, the wind brings whiffs of ramps and rhubarb. the scent of anticipation.
the first asparagus will show up soon, reminding us that the coming months will taste like sweet fruit and late sunsets. there will be more good days than bad, more to look forward to.
august tastes like yogurt with strawberries and granola. vermouth and tinned fish. wine sipped on a fire escape. scallops grilled with nectarines. tomatoes and zucchini and eggplant.
the aroma of summer will sit in the back of mouths and minds for many months to come. flavors being catalogued and remembered, saved for colder days.
eventually, peaches become pears and crisp lettuce is replaced by broccolini and kale. it is a slow burn, as sun fades from skin but not from memory. seasons don’t change overnight; they linger for a moment in between.
in between there is squash again, and apples that snap when the skin is broken there are roasted meats and stews that taste like childhood. there are feasts and pies and sugar cookies and there is lots of time for thinking.
late winter is frigid and unforgiving. squash, mushrooms, and potatoes. turnips, cabbage, and leeks. there is comfort in routine, and patterns but energy and inspiration are hard to find.
beauty is tucked away in unexpected places, like lemons, grapefruits, and oranges. shepherd’s pie and lasagna. warm sweet tea on a snowy day.
sometimes it feels like it will never end—december into january into february—the cold air that has become a part of the body. but everything ends eventually. everything changes with the seasons.
soon enough we will emerge again, as we always do, awakened from hibernation. like seedlings germinating on top of a warm dresser, or cats bathing in the sun, swatting at the little cardboard pods to test their resilience.