A Taste Of Summer

When I was a kid, we looked forward to summer for many reasons.

We were allowed to stay outside longer because there was no school the next day and it  did not get dark until much later.

And we got to go swimming! We spent many an afternoon at the city swimming pool, where 25 cents bought you an afternoon of refreshing fun in the warm summer sun.

We were fortunate that we could ride our bikes to and from the city pool each day. No matter how wet we were when we left the pool, our swim trunks were always dry by the time we made it home.

Between the chlorine and the sun, we were worn out by dinnertime each night.

Which brings me to one of the other things I really looked forward to: Dad cooking out on the barbecue grill.

I guess you could say I am a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. We ate lot of beef and pork. Dad loved to grill burgers, steaks, hot dogs, and pork chops.

But one of my favorite things that I remember eating was the sweet corn we used to get at the local “You-Pick” farm. If you have never had the opportunity to visit a “You-Pick” farm, let me tell you that you are missing out.

There’s nothing quite like the experience of getting your basket and riding around the farm in a hay wagon being pulled by a tractor and stopping at various fields to hop off and pick your own corn, melons, strawberries, carrots, peppers, beans, squash, cucumbers and other vegetables.

Have you ever noticed that freshly picked vegetables from your garden always taste better than those bought at the grocery store?

Speaking of gardens, I learned about gardening at a very young age. We planted a small garden every year and enjoyed the benefits of fresh vegetables from our back yard.

We mostly planted tomatoes, squash, carrots, melons, and cucumbers, as these were the fruits and vegetables we ate most often.

As I grew older, the gardens got bigger. Before long, I was giving away vegetables to friends and family because there was no way we could eat everything we harvested before it spoiled.

It was such a great feeling to be able to share the food from our garden with others.

These days, my garden has shrunk. We live in a small home and I try to container garden, but haven’t had as much success with that in recent years. The extreme desert temperatures have wreaked havoc on my plants.

When I graduated from college and eventually moved to Phoenix, I discovered the local farmers’ market. That was many years ago, and at the time there was only one or two that happened every weekend in the summer.

Now, it seems there are multiple farmers’ markets on the weekends throughout the year and one can find anything from fresh fruits and vegetables to canned goods and local fresh baked goods and cheeses.

Every Saturday morning, we make it a habit to pack the small cooler with ice and visit the farmers’ market to get a few things to last through the week.

Granted, we can never be sure beforehand as to what we will find, nor can we do all of our grocery shopping at the market, but those heirloom tomatoes sure do taste better than the ones we buy out of season at the grocery store.

Do you have a farmers’ market in your community? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: bcoleman001@gmail.com