I’m eating one last plum. One small, soft, juicy, purple-black plum, its pulp sweet and cold, its skin tart and fibrous. One last plum before the summer fruit season ends.
Many of my friends talk about the mixed feelings of changing over their wardrobes from summer to fall: the end of cotton skirts and sleeveless blouses; the ushering-in of wool sweaters and blazers and suede boots. This year, with warm humid temperatures extending into the beginning of October, some of them have sounded more eager than wistful about saying goodbye to bathing suits and sandals and reaching for their autumnal wardrobe.
For me, the wardrobe turnover isn’t all that meaningful. It’s in the fruit crisper that I mark – and lament – the change of seasons.
Goodbye to sweet white peaches, tangy yellow peaches, intensely flavored apricots, red and purple and black plums. Goodbye to complicated cherries, delicious despite their tangle of stems and messy pits, and nectarines, the fruit that seems to have an agreeable disposition, neither as sloppy as peaches nor as mealy as apricots.
Goodbye to summer vegetables as well: plump sweet corn kernels lined up along the cob; dark flavorful tomatoes in blobby irregular spheres.
I’m not adamant about locavorism, mostly because I can’t imagine forever giving up bananas, avocadoes and coffee. But the very best of the summer fruits and vegetables simply aren’t available in the supermarket off-season. And even without being proactively locavore, I appreciate the annual rhythms of the harvest: asparagus in the spring, an abundance of juicy tomatoes and fruits, and flavorful lettuces, in the summer, pears and apples in the fall, oranges and grapefruit in the winter.
So today I say goodbye to summer’s delicious stone fruits. One more perfect plum, and then eight or nine months without. Time to turn to the autumnal harvest for cooking and snacking inspiration. The wheel of the year turns, and we’re at the start of a new season, once again.