Ben Goetter's unnecessarily apocalyptic weblog.

Tue, 07 Mar 2006

A taste of last summer

Every summer I subscribe to a CSA run by a couple of upper Methow farmers. Once a week I trundle down to the weekly Mazama market, pick up my bag of goodies, eat everything that Kathryn won't touch, and haul the rest back to Seattle on the weekend to feed to Kathryn. The bag usually includes fruit, either local or imported from the next valley over (Okanogan) or downvalley (near the Methow-Columbia confluence). For the last couple of years the summer's final bag (usually arriving shortly after the equinox, making it rather the autumn's final bag) has included a considerable supply of d'Anjou pears, which require cold storage to finish ripening. Definitely a piece of deferred gratification.

In 2004 the pear payload was enormous: at least twenty pounds of pears, packed in a plastic foam crate. I took the crate and stashed it high in my shop, high enough to be safe from mice, figuring that the winter cold in my unheated shop would take care of the cold storage requirement. In the middle of January 2005 I checked my pears. The mice had left them alone, but they had ripened well beyond what I find appetizing, being brown and nearly liquid. I took each pear and hurled it into the field behind my shop, where it exploded into a brown pulp on the snow. Perhaps a family of voles got tight on fermented pear pulp that night.

In 2005's final CSA package I received not quite so many pears, yet still enough to fill a grocery-sized paper bag. This time I stashed the bag in my little refrigerator, rolling the top of the bag to close it. All autumn and winter I faced the bag whenever I opened the fridge to make dinner; all autumn and winter I remembered the previous winter's deliquescence. All winter I have been postponing opening the bag to reveal the state of its contents. (Schrödinger's pears.)

Yesterday I gathered my courage and opened the bag.

After six months, the pears had skins crinkly with many fine wrinkles, like the face of somebody's beautiful great-grandmother. Tentatively I bit into one. It was soft, but not too soft, with the grainy slightly-sandy texture of a d'Anjou, and a taste of honey and spice. It was perfect. I gobbled it and ate another immediately.

Today, immoderately, I ate three after returning from an afternoon run. It was 6C outside, warm enough to run without a hat or jacket, and the sun was beating on the mountains of plowed snow to either side of the road. Until I empty that bag of pears, I can still taste a little bit of last summer. That won't last long at the rate that they're disappearing.

My freezer holds three gallons of blueberries, another relic of last summer. It's hard for me to work up enthusiasm for frozen berries, however, when so much snow remains on the ground. I can mix the berries with yogurt, then stir until the yogurt freezes. When the yogurt berries enter my mouth, my head freezes. When I look out the window at the meter-plus of snow remaining, the rest of my body freezes.

The sun has a lot of work ahead of it. I'm almost out of pears.

posted at: 20:45 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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