Thursday, June 05, 2008

In Season

I got pregnant at the tail end of the Fall, just when the growing season was winding down. There were many apples to choose from at the market—Honeycrisp, Gala, Cortland, Pink Lady. I ate them any way I could—grated into my morning oatmeal, or at lunch with a slice of good cheese, or slathered in peanut butter.

The leeks were abundant, too, and I craved them so much that I ate them for breakfast—braised with a vinaigrette—until the morning sickness kicked in and the mere thought of leeks became unbearable.

Most of the winter, I felt like a stranger in my own skin, as if my mind couldn’t quite catch up to all of the new things my body was doing. I craved plain, white, starchy foods, so it’s a good thing potatoes were in season. I ate them with gusto, baked in the oven and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper, or mashed with a fork and seasoned with butter and nutmeg, or roasted with olive oil and onions and garlic.

Baking bread was the one small thing I could control in a sea of intense changes. I pushed aside my nausea long enough to knead dough for countless loaves, loving the feel of the dough in my hands—sticky and loose at first, then smooth and supple by the end. I gobbled the bread fresh from the oven, slathered with butter, then stumbled back to bed for yet another nap.

April brought with it the first real signs of Spring weather, the first glorious kicks from the baby, and an overwhelming craving for strawberries. I woke up every morning with my hands on my burgeoning belly, feeling the baby's phantom kicks and dreaming of the moment when strawberries came into season and I could finally dig into a big bowl of them, dewy and red and soft and sweet.

April also brought my first hospital stay and bed rest—how cruel to be stuck inside just when everything on the outside is waking up!

May crawled along and I watched Spring happen through my open window. To help me combat my cabin fever, Spiceboy brought me treats from his daily excursions: Fresh eggs with velvety yellow yolks, Berkshire honey, gorgeous asparagus, and fresh mint and basil and rosemary and tarragon, which we’ve planted in little pots on our fire escape.

And now it is June! The weather is warmer, and my belly is larger. It is almost strawberry season—finally--and I’m counting down the days until I can stand at a stall in the Union Square Greenmarket and pick a perfect pint to take home with me.

In July, I will breathe a sigh of relief. The baby will finally be viable outside of the womb, even if she comes a little early. I will be released from bed rest just as corn and cucumbers and cherries and peaches come into season.

When I’m free, I shall make a salad. I shall bake a pie.

By August, Manhattan will be a lumbering swamp thing—damp, sweltering, and primordial. Beets and blueberries and collards and carrots and figs will be in season. And leeks and tomatoes. And watermelon—oh, the watermelon!

By August, I will be swollen and slow—a solar system in a sun dress. And right when the weather is at its hottest, right when the watermelon is at its sweetest, I will finally be ready to deliver this baby girl.

When she arrives, I will hold her in my hands like a warm loaf of bread, kiss her tiny cherry cheeks and strawberry mouth, bury my nose in her fuzzy peach head, squeeze her blueberry toes, and whisper to her of all of the amazing seasons to come.