marvelous vegetable, the zucchini. y’know, i never had really eaten it before this past year. this summer has been the summer of the great green squash: it’s my new best veggie friend…(c:

i never used to enjoy summer. It’s always been, for me, the time when people leave -or when i leave people. for a girl who craves and savors stability, summertimes gained a very bad reputation as the season of shuffling: first, older friends left for college. then i left for college. for years, good-byes in may and new good-byes in august bookended warm months and disallowed any settled pattern or community. first it was just moving 100 miles back and forth from my hometown to my college town (go cyclones!), but then I moved 1000 miles away from home, and summers were far from home and filled with studies, then with a new job…

but last summer was a golden summer: a steady group of folks settled in the same neighborhood, and i began to think warmth was not so bad. community was in place.

beyond the people-factor, silly as it sounds, my love for a season hinges heavily on the aesthetics that season presents. what kind of food can i cook? and (yes, i am this shallow) what kind of clothes can i wear? autumn has always claimed the yearly throne in this area: what can compare with a pot of homemade applesauce bubbling on the stove and a cosy corduroy jacket or warm, deep-colored scarf?

but this year, i discovered (read: was introduced to by loving friends) summer clothing and summer vegetables. 

before, i have been happy to slog out the summer in winter layers (that is, i don’t buy any short-sleeve shirt that i can’t wear under a winter sweater later on — nothing bright and sunny-colored; mainly black, white, olive, dark blue, and brown. eek.). my roommate, lover of sun and warmth, tried to help me devise a summer outfit before we went out one night and ended up delving into her own closet to help me find a top that didn’t make my summer skirt look like winter. So i took myself to macy’s and, with much deliberation, bought a light-weight eyelet blouse, lightweight shorts, and a pale orange polo shirt (short sleeves! not remotely layer-able!).

even more remarkable… i actually shopped for and bought a cute, bright green 2-piece swimsuit and beach towel this year and, with the company of aforementioned Roommate and lovely friend Joy, went to the shore two or three times. previous visits to the beach involved the swimsuit i purchased in eighth grade. i’m now twenty-seven. while it’s nice that the suit i bought back then still fit well enough to work (when paired judiciously with a pair of shorts), it was time to retire the speedo one-piece that was hardly fashionable even then. so in the new suit, with trusty, sun-lovin’ friends, i even managed to get a little tan this summer! for a pasty-white girl of german-irish descent, that is a very major accomplishment.  thanks to the lovely Roommate and Miss Joy.

my other discovery was summer vegetables. my marvelous local farmer’s market (and my friend Ben, who’s the master of garden-based cooking) introduced the wonders of the zucchini, simply sauteed with tomatoes and other sundry summer veg. amazing! for very little oven output, you get a bright-tasting, nutritious, and cheap dinner. i made a variant last night and was happy all evening … sauteed onions and garlic, cubed a zucchini, and added a gorgeous heirloom tomato. when everything had softened a bit, i tossed it all with whole wheat couscous and was happy as a summer-lovin’ clam.  thanks, Ben.

so summer. i’m actually a little sad to see it go! in my memory, this will be the season i reveled in community, a community that taught me to love orange shirts, accompanied me to the beach of green swimsuits … and introduced the zucchini. long live the zucchini.