The first few years of my life began on a farm. There are many lessons learned on a farm but the biggest lesson I remember is that everything is fresh and if things don’t stay that way the rest of your life, you may find yourself yearning and searching for those freshly harvested foods. We had fresh eggs from the many chickens housed within the chicken coop a few feet from the farmhouse. We had rows and rows of fresh vegetables and fruit to eat all year long. Yes, I AM SPOILED! We had an abundance of fresh grown foods. Not only did we have all that but Mom would cook homemade bread and treats and my Dad would make homemade jelly and so we also had freshly made food. We lived off the land according to my five year old mind and we were HAPPY
We moved from the farm to a suburb in Buffalo, New York when I was five and that was a shock to me. No more fresh fruits and vegetables except in the small part of the year called Spring and Summer. It was a barren two and a half years from what I remember and I learned to wish for the longer days of Spring when the planting would begin. I don’t remember much except the under abundance of fruits and vegetables and Dad trying to make tomato soup for us while Mom was in the hospital…..it involved a blender and real tomatoes….oh dear.
Then we moved to New Orleans and, honestly, I thought we had moved to heaven. We had a huge backyard with half of it filled with rows of fresh vegetables and rows of corn stalks. I can remember the piping hot corn that would grace our table after leaving the pot of boiling water on the stove. We were back to living off the land. And, then, we took monthly trips to the French Quarter and I could see rows and rows of fresh fruit and vegetables. The colors of the displays splashed the old buildings they were housed in and brought them to life.
Yes, I am spoiled. I had all these beautiful colors and tastes for most of my childhood and on into adulthood. And, then it happened. I fell in love and got married and a year later we moved far away from my family. I spent years trying to duplicate the vegetables and fruits that were served everyday when I was growing up. I searched for fruit and vegetable stands on the side of the road and I searched for Farmer’s Markets. I had my kids and my husband searching when we would take road trips. I was longing for what once was, for a sweet tasting tomato, a piece of corn that had that fresh grown taste, and, chard and beet greens, and even vegetables like kohlrabi and fried turnips. All were plentiful in the gardens of my childhood and I wanted them back.
I still go to the grocery store and my favorite section is the vegetable and fruit section – maybe it’s the colors or maybe its the hope that one day, I will find the sweetest tomato or the batch of chard that tastes just like my Dad’s would taste, or corn that could grace my table and taste as good as the corn of my childhood. I know in my heart it won’t happen….not even if I go to a Farmer’s Market to get the fruit and vegetables. But I still continue to hope. For now, I will treasure my memories and know that I was lucky enough to have been a SPOILED CHILD.