Now the campus tastes like summer.
The strawberries are in, for one thing. We have asparagus, rhubarb, lettuce, ramps, dandelion greens, and snow peas, too. Plus dandelions and rose petals, which you can eat. Some of these are on the way out while others are on the way in. Plus the greenhouses are still producing. The point is that our meals aren't dominated by carefully rationed stored food anymore but by fresh food, mountains of it--the challenge isn't to ration anymore, it's to eat as much of whatever's fresh this week as possible.
I don't mean the idea is to gorge ourselves, I mean that each meal has to take maximum advantage of whatever's in plenty at the moment.
We've also switched over to mostly eating quick breads again, not that the zucchini is anywhere close to ready to harvest, but we have dried zucchini saved, plus a couple of winter squashes left over from last fall, and Sadie has us finishing all that up. So that's another taste of summer.
The thing I'm actually excited about, though, is the strawberries. We have mountains of strawberries, piles of strawberries, and more coming in every day. Almost half of it goes into jam or pie filling for the winter, but the other half--
The fruit bowl is back. Any time you're in the Dining Hall you can grab a handful of fresh fruit. Whatever's left in the bowl at the end of the day goes into jam, so it doesn't go bad. There's strawberry vinaigrette dressing on the salad bar at lunch. There's strawberry shortcake for dessert.
And for breakfast--
In the winter, breakfast is mostly a choice between oatmeal and miso soup. Plus the hot bar, I mean, for eggs and sausage. Now, we've got the summer version, granola instead of oatmeal, but what most of us do is only use a little of the granola, for texture, and load up on fresh fruit with milk or yogurt. The fresh fruit, of course, is strawberries right now.
And yes, we'll get sick of strawberries--right around the time the plants stop producing and blueberry season starts.
The thing I'm excited about is not just the strawberries themselves but the way the season has turned. We've put the bean window boxes up outside all the dorm rooms and the plants are growing fast. It's warm enough now that people lay out on the grass between classes or even nap--one of the things I like about this place is that you can take a nap just about anywhere and nobody will bother you or think you're weird. Not that I take naps, much, but I like that I can. And the frogs and toads and even a few spring crickets are singing.
We're in this great little hole in the weather, this narrow window of the year when it's warm enough that we don't need the wood stoves but cool enough that we don't have to shut up the Mansion during the day. That means the windows can be open all day and all night. And there are still hardly any mosquitoes.
So I can lay in my bed in the afternoon, working on homework from a workshop or doing the meditations or magical exercises Joy has assigned me, and I can hear the birds sing. I have a sliding glass door onto my balcony, we all do, and the door curtain waves a little in the breeze and all my clothes smell of fresh air because of course we line-dry everything here.
The sun is setting later and later now. Sometimes I'm back in my room in time to watch sunset from my balcony and I can hear Charlie playing his love songs to the land at dusk. I have heard yearlings asking who is playing the tin whistle at night and why. I do not tell them.