Winter has outlasted its welcome by the time the inaugural daffodils sashay along the roadways. We embrace Spring with eager, open arms, like a best friend’s hug after a long separation.
But Summer. This season of heat, humidity, poolside salvation and carefully planned family vacations arrives suddenly. One day there are cool breezes and no bugs, and the next enters like a blast of heat from Mother’s Nature furnace, scorching the Earth in a matter of hours. Gnats and mosquitoes take up seemingly permanent residence. The lush green grass that carpeted our lawns turns dusty brown overnight. Weeds creep in and clutter out garden beds. The pool and A/C are our saving grace.
Summer stealthily lands overnight.
The school buses stop coming. The homework ends. The lunches don’t need to be packed. The requests for school volunteers comes to a halt. Summer freedom arrives like a missile, shot into our lives to blow up all the regular weekday routines.
I used to love the summer sun and heat, beating down on me beachside or poolside, me a teen lifeguard soaking up all that unprotected sunshine. That was, of course, until my sun-kissed skin reached its mid-forties. And before I gave birth to five kids. Now, I still treasure summer and all the freedom it brings, but the eight hours at poolside have been replaced with other stuff. Really good stuff.
Really good stuff like heading to the Leesburg Farmers’ Market at 8am on a Saturday morning with my husband of 21 years. Mike and I relish that hour out of the house, coffees in hand, strolling the canopied stands teeming with homegrown and homemade offerings–ripe, seasonal vegetables and fruits–many of them heirloom varieties no longer sold at retail stores; breads and sweets; fresh organic eggs, milk and cheeses; beef, pork, lamb and chicken; salsa and wine; crisp, colorful flowers; and direct-form-the farm fruits and vegetables. We talk to everyone– neighbors we bump into, our pastor who frequents the market, the farmers and bakers who bring their goods to us.
Last Saturday, a young woman sat strumming her banjo, entertaining us as we moved blissfully from stand to stand. We picked out zuchinni and yellow squash. We grabbed two pints of sour cherries, which have a very short season but are absolutely perfect in a homemade pie. I bought custom-made dog treats for our four-legged family members–just $5 for a bag of 12. I made my usual stop at Becky’s Pastries for Portugese sweet bread (which makes amazing french toast) and four massive apple turnovers ($2 each)–the best I’ve ever eaten! And that’s saying a lot, because I crave apple anything!
Hubby Mike found his favorite Cherokee tomatoes, royal specimens cloaked in an almost purple skin. Their rich smokey flavor is peerless with slices of fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. Naturally, we grabbed fresh basil and mozzarella at the market, too.
There are ample meat options, as well–on this trip, we brought home THE best bacon and kielbasa, from our friend and Mount Jackson, VA pork producer, Farmer Steve Baker. We are huge fans of Steve’s pork–and so is anyone who favors Fireworks‘ Smokey Blue pizza, which features Steve’s bacon. He supplies sausage and bacon to American Flatbread in Ashburn, too. We’ve been buying our pork from Steve for 10 years now. If you love a ham for the holidays, in our humble opinion, Baker Pork offers the best. It makes my mouth water just thinking about Baker ham.
The truth is, you can pick up everything you need for a summer dinner on the porch or deck, all produced locally, right at the Leesburg Farmers’ Market–or any farmer’s market near you. The Leesburg Farmers’ Market is open year-round, but summer hours are longer: 8am-12 noon. If you haven’t visited a farmers’ market recently, shame on you. Get out there and buy local–it’s fresher, safer, and better tasting than most anything you can find on a supermarket shelf. Plus, where else can you actually hold a conversation with the person who nurtured the food you’re about to put in your family’s mouths?And just wait until apple season…I’ll be fighting you for the best honey crisp apples. So you better arrive early. And Becky’s sells out of the poppyseed laced sweet bread ($4.50) in no time–so buy one for yourself AND your neighbor. Spread a little edible summer sunshine.
Today, summer feels slow and easy–and quiet. Shelby, our eldest, is in Europe touring with friends. Mike took Cullen, Bryan and Cady to Summer’s Best Two Weeks, the PA-based Christian sports camp that is the absolute highlight of their summer break. Sean is along for the ride. It’s just me, the pets and the computer. Tomorrow, the lightning fast pace of summer will resume, with baseball camp, and a work week, and an evening trip to Hershey Park for their preview visit (buy one-day ticket for tomorrow, and visit for the final three hours the night before). Sean and I have a summer date.
What’s on your plate for tomorrow…and how about next weekend, when the Farmers’ Markets throughout Loudoun County are open for your business? This LoudounCrazyMom challenges you to make one dinner this week with foods purchased at the local market–not the local Giant or Wegman’s–but the local farmers’ market. Let me know what you’re cooking–maybe we can swap recipes!
Until our next summer adventure…
Martha, one loudouncrazymom