Monday, March 7, 2011

This isn't spring - this is taunt

Is it OK to repost a column I wrote in 2005? I hope so, because this time of year, I always think about taunt:

There really should be five seasons:

Winter, spring, summer, fall and "taunt."

Taunt floats around, showing up between the other, better established seasons. It's that season when you think summer has given way to fall, so you unpack the heavy clothes. Then you spend the next three week digging in your closet for anything not made of wool.

It's those strange stretches of days when the calendar says it's time to eat pot roast, but the summer crickets are still raising a ruckus under your kitchen window.

Taunt doesn't have simple symbols, like the snowflakes that decorate Christmas cards or the squashes and pumpkins on calendar pages in October.

You only know taunt when you're in it.

Taunt really cranks up in March. One day, it feels like it's time to brush fallen leaves off the grill. The next, it's too cold for anything that doesn't involve a slow cooker.

When the sun comes out, we have soft green grass and freshly sprouted daffodil stalks. When it changes its mind and ducks back behind the clouds, we have bare tree limbs and mud.

I can't fight taunt in March any more than I can fight summer in August. All I can do is lay still in the night, listening to the weather change yet again, and start listing all the things I'm ready to do.

I'm ready to snap the woody ends off asparagus. I'm ready for roasted asparagus drizzled with sesame oil and asparagus omelets. I'm ready to save up a bag of the snapped-off ends, to simmer them in chicken broth, puree them and strain them to make a bowl of pale green asparagus soup with a little cream.

I'm ready to trim the leafy tops from endless trays of strawberries. I'm ready for slices of pound cake topped with sugared strawberries, for smoothies made with frozen strawberries I picked myself, and spinach salads tossed with strawberries.

I'm ready for lettuce so tender, it feels like eating silk, and the brief appearance of sugar snap peas that don't come from a bag in the freezer.

I'm ready for mint, to toss with a little butter for a sauce on those peas, for glasses of iced tea and for an occasional julep to celebrate finishing a Saturday of yard work.

I'm ready for the tarragon I plant every year, even though I know it won't make it through July, and for long sprigs of thyme to strew over roasted vegetables, and tiny leaves of thyme to whisk into vinaigrettes.

I'm ready for spring onions and new chives, and that juicy, fresh-pulled garlic that hasn't been dried for long storage.

I'm ready for salmon on the grill, and the chance to sit out on the patio while it cooks without fighting mosquitoes and humidity.

I'm not ready for mosquitoes and humidity yet. I'm not ready for tomatoes and corn, for peppers and peaches, for green beans and broccoli and slices of melon at breakfast every morning.

Not yet, anyway. Those are coming, in their season.

This is just taunt. The season to wait.


Anonymous said...

If there's just a hint of "taunt", would be a "taint of taunt"?