First of the season

I don't believe I've ever told you about this woman I know. Let's call her Amelia. She's become a sort of den mother to me over the course of the last few months: she taught me to knit a scarf; she's encouraged me when I desperately needed cheering up; and she has the most sensible outlook on life, love and food. Organic potato chip in one hand, cigarette in the other, she's made me feel comfortable sauntering around with one foot firmly rooted in a rebellious Birkenstock sandal, the other in a goody-two-shoes, patent leather Mary-Jane. A life full of contradictions is a special thing, no?

We sat around last night sipping cheap red wine as she recalled how she met her husband -- randomly, unexpectedly, during a vacation over on Paradise Island. She'd known him for a week and suddenly they were entangled in a long-distance love affair. I adore stories like that, where two people seemingly forgo all caution and reason, throwing rules to the wind, to try something out. Perhaps because I did it. Things didn't work out as well for me as they have for Amelia, but even if they hadn't fared so well for her I doubt she'd be the type to regret it.

Listening to her wax optimistic about love made me pause and reflect back on my own relationships. And then it got me thinking about strawberries.

I picked up a local pint the other day on my walk home, the first of the season. They taste exactly as they should: mostly sweet, with a hint of tartness. They cost as much as gold around here, partly because they're novel but also because imported berries are ridiculously underpriced, coated in layers of pesticides and chemicals and picked by underpaid immigrant workers. I like berries, but the cheap ones are rarely as satisfying as these berries were. In fact, these were so delicious, I sat there at my computer in the morning, drinking Chai tea and eating all of them, one by one.

Last year, in March I sat in a car in a parking lot outside a produce stand in Plant City back, eating the first strawberries of the season with my then boyfriend, my feet up on the dash. Things made sense. Danger seemed far away from us, as it always seems to when you are happy. It's hard to believe I've only been in Toronto for a little over a year -- it feels like longer -- but I still feel close to that moment, strawberry juice dribbling down my chin as we bragged to our loved ones. There is something about eating locally, in-season, that just tastes infinitely better than robbing ourselves of that moment for a quick dozen mediocre strawberries.

Now single, I sit in anticipation of love stories like Amelia's. I love hearing them. I think about a possible future, of picking berries, of eating the first asparagus or green beans or apples or peaches of every season with a loved one, sitting back in wonder, exclaiming, "it took me by surprise."


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