Now two weeks ago, after turning what ended up being my last large harvest of ripe tomatoes from the canning garden into salsa, I dashed down to our lower field to see if I could find a few more tomatillos to turn into my favorite tongue plucking, smother your eggs in the morning, salsa verde to tuck away for the winter. The harvest was scant, I got only three pints more in the end.
In fact, I kind of thought I would be gathering all kinds of the last bits of summer during that harvest. Maybe I would find a little more zucchini to shred for the freezer, some last beans from the rows the farmer was done harvesting from to pickle. I was still in the throes of preserving summer for winter and the squirrel in me was working hard. But really, there just wasn’t much left. And just like that, the summer crops of my own, grown for putting up in the winter were frozen or rain split and the crops here were bare or past their prime.
What I did gather that day, aside from that small bit of tomatillos, was broccoli raab and a few different Asian greens for our plate that night. You see, although the earth is on its way to the dying part of the year and the summer plants are on their way to decaying, the color of autumn eating here s a luscious, healthy, happy green color and the taste kind of has a bite like those sour tomatillos.
These crops are so beautiful right now. Well before the hardest weather of winter leaves them a bit tattered and thick skinned and some of their heat and bite in flavor turns to sugars to protect them from the cold, they are incredibly tender and bright and mouth waking right now. This “new” growth, while so many other crops are looking so much the worse for wear and a farm and garden are looking bedraggled and worn, kind of brightens both the fields and the kitchen. Shines in its own unique fall green kind of way.
In all things, a silver lining?