Signs of Summer, Revamped

As a kid, the sign that summer had arrived was when the farm stand on Newbridge Road opened. The farmers that owned it had land out east on Long Island, a mere 60 miles away. Once they had enough corn, potatoes and tomatoes (and other veggies, but those aren't important), the Bellmore farm stand would open for the summer (usually in late June, sometimes early July). That event signaled "DING DING DING, Summer's HERE!" At least, for my family it did.

Beautiful bread and butter corn and tender, white potatoes were the accoutrements to many a Monday night dinner. Mom loved summer dining al fresco, and the grill got a serious workout. It was a banner day when the farm stand opened. Many Monday nights, the corn would be the dessert after one of her grilled delicacies. We typically didn't have dessert, but that sweet corn? It was a happy finish to a great meal.

Years later, when Gameboy was a toddler, Ed and I were having our first home constructed. One of the caveats to getting that mortgage was that I had to quit my job for a short period of time. To cut down on expenses, my sister Peg and my Mom invited Gameboy and I up to New York.

During the stay, there was a great day of traveling out east to the outlets, then those farms, gathering bushels of tomatoes, corn and a fifty pound bag of potatoes. Many of these farms would have fresh picked corn roasting in rotisseries, ready for purchase. I consumed these treats at three of those stops, never mind how full the belly was from an incredible lunch of some fantastic shellfish.

The next day was spent canning tomatoes, husking all that corn and putting it in food saver bags and dividing the potatoes among the family members who craved the buttery flavored tubers. It was fun, a second afternoon of the three of us, with my nephew and Gameboy running around the kitchen of my sister's home.

I don't remember much of the two weeks up there, as the days melded into one another. Those two days reminded me of being a kid, looking forward to summer. They are vivid in my memory. Ever since, the two days traveling through Riverhead, Water Mill Cutchogue and various points along the way also remind me of the fruits(rather veggies) of summer had arrived.

Here in Florida, the seasons are one. We have summer all year round, with a slight dip into mid spring chills in December and January. It means that what once was a harbinger that summer had arrived now is almost always available. It numbs me to how unusual it is to get fresh summer vegetables for 10 months a year. What used to be a sign of summer is now just part and parcel of living in Florida.

Every once in a while, though, I shuck some corn, smell the silk and all of a sudden, I'm seven years old and wondering how the heck I am going to get any of that sweet corn off the cob with my two front teeth missing..

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