Moving to California from Michigan, I worried about losing the glorious experience of the four seasons. I was ready for a break from the cold, sure, but I had never wanted to escape the natural clock of the seasons, the tick-tock of winter to spring to summer to fall. I wanted to stay in the comfortable arms of those patterns, where each new season sweeps in to provide exactly what the last one left us longing for.
Spring, the season of the moment, might be most obvious, bringing on the tail of a blustery winter the blessed reminder that life still abounds, that the long winters always end, that we are never foolish for our hope. Things emerge from the ground—food to fill our bellies, flowers for our tables—like magic, like clockwork. It never ceases to amaze me that despite all that is unpredictable and difficult and wrong in this world, things grow out of the dirt.
After spring, summer! And our jubilance is evidence that deep down, we’re really just children, all of us. The days are long and the gardens brimming, and so we release the little ones from school and celebrate marriages and have parties at parks, on porches.
But when autumn comes, I’m never sad. There’s a different kind of newness then, as the trees shed their leaves, getting rid of the old and worn, changing—we, too, can change. And there are apples that beg to be pressed into cider and big, sturdy squash that withstand the cold. In winter, we hunker down with those we love and stay inside, mugs of that cider warm in our hands, pans of hearty root vegetables roasting in the oven. The world hibernates and rests, reminding us there’s nothing wrong with that.
And then comes spring.
And we begin again.
It’s not so dramatic here in the temperate Bay Area, this is true, and so I do miss my Midwestern seasons. But to my delight, there are seasons here, however subtle, and there is change that comes between them, the sort you feel deep in your bones and your spirit. In the past few weeks, the cherry trees blossomed with little puffs of pink and the neighbor’s garden exploded with color and fragrance; we walk past slowly, filling our lungs with its perfume. The markets, though never silent, are humming again—they will shout in no time at all.
Considering the turmoil of last week, which felt like too much to bear—too much sadness and pain and upheaval and darkness—I am all the more glad for the rhythm of the seasons and this hope of springtime. I want long walks in the lingering light of the evenings and flowers taken from the willing earth to sit with me at my table and food that tastes like spring: new life and hope and goodness on my tongue.
Here’s a bit of that, for you.
Creamy Chilled Green Soup
Adapted from Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough’s Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food
Full, bright flavor and a creamy consistency balance one another out marvelously in this chilled soup. This would be fantastic on a warm spring evening, all the more so if paired with a glass of rosé. Note that even with seeds removed, the jalapeño adds significant heat; you can temper this by adding more yogurt as needed.
1 large English or other thin-skinned cucumber, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt, plus additional
1/4 cup well-packed fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more as needed
9 large fresh mint leaves
1 medium jalapeño, seeds removed (unless you want it very hot!) and coarsely chopped
1 large scallion or 1 small spring onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup water
2 large or 3 small avocados (about 1 1/4 lbs.), flesh scooped out and coarsely mashed with a fork
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
thinly sliced chives, for garnish
freshly cracked black pepper, for garnish
Combine the cucumber, yogurt, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice, mint, jalapeño, scallion or spring onion, 1 teaspoon salt and the water in a blender or food processor. Puree just until smooth.
Add the mashed avocados and pulse a few times, just to blend.
Transfer to a bowl and whisk constantly as you slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
Taste, and stir in more salt, vinegar and/or lime juice as needed. If the soup is too spicy for your taste, add an extra dollop of yogurt and stir well to integrate it into the soup.
Serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of chives and freshly cracked black pepper.
Yield: about 5 cups // 5 small servings