My Italian grandparents taught me to eat seasonally. Our mid-day meal table on any given Sunday was filled with platters of what was fresh that week. My Grandfather routinely cut wild greens from vacant lots and shared crates of backyard-grown produce with his immigrant friends. That constituted the farmer’s market of my youth. My mom preferred the modern, air-conditioned convenience of the gigantic 1970’s supermarket. I would never dare to cut down greens from some random field but I admire the hutzpah it took to do it. What I can do is strive to frequent my local farmer’s market and grow produce in my garden.

Summer produce stars: apricots, avocados, basil, berries, cantaloupe, cherries, chilies, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, figs, green beans,  limes, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, peas, sweet peppers, plums, shallots, squash, tomatoes, watermelon and zucchini. To find or confirm your local farmer’s market locations, look here. Happy summer!

Georgia O’Keefe, Plums, 1920 – My Grandfather, Grandmother and Uncle, 1958 – Marimekko, Strawberries – Our vegetable garden

My mom’s cucumber salad recipe (in her own hand) appears below. I love that she did not bother to fill in ‘from.’ And our family NEVER respects the yield on any recipe, just triple everything is our motto. My mom called cucumbers, cukes.

August, with its clouds of scented blooms,
August, with its great stacks of giant clouds,
August, with corn plants standing like rows of soldiers,
August, with watermelons, full and heavy, dozing in the sun,
August.

August, remember swimming in the lake?
August, remember baby Alice daintily eating berries from the vine?
August, remember Richie playing with the goat?
August, remember Donald practicing on his new saxophone?
August.

August, and its lightening laced sky,
August, and newlyweds Pat and Chet decorating their first home,
August, and Billy the Brave, Billy the Fearless, on his two wheel bike,
August, and shimmering memories hanging like drops of dew,
August.

August, the bountiful, August the full,
August, Mama hot, but smiling, over a platter of succulent roast chicken,
August, Daddy mixing her a frosty mint julep,
August, blessed harvest of memories,
August.

Mary Naylor




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