California Springing
February 29, 2004

Yes, it's February. Yes, it's spring. Yes, it's California.

The Jamaican restaurant down the street that has been conspicuously closed since we moved here is now taking great care to hose off its red and yellow awnings and delicious smells are starting to simmer out of the cracks in the menu-plastered windows.

The rain that I thought would be heavy and constant in winter is now coming hard and soft at various times throughout the day. I got as far as the marble foyer in our building, saw some rain, and went back up to get the umbrella only to find that it had stopped when I finally left for the grocery store. The wind is just as changeable and can blow so the wet wuthering can be heard around our building. Along with the sun and clear skies, it also brings the nautical clang of distant wharf bells up to us on our hill. But it's warm. I wear a leather jacket to keep me dry but by the time I reach Albertson's, I'm sweating a bit in the 65-degree damp air.

Stuff is budding. A dark green spiky shrub in front of one of the dream houses on Broderick has magenta blooms, trees up and down Fulton have hard pink balls, and a Magnolia tree just burst open in front of the House of Seven Gables across the street.

Catness told me to eat a spoonful of local honey every day to get my allergies acclimatized to the new flora. I have finally done that. But here I must admit, I'm not a big honey person. I will add it to things, cook with it, glaze with it, "play spa" with it and make masques out of it, but I've just never gotten behind its actual and quite distinct flavor. However, we have availed ourselves of a local (because we are so very staunchly and ecstatically Californians after a mere six months. Hell, after this Tuesday we'll have voted FOUR TIMES!) blend that the soon-to-be-law-student shopkeeper assured us will take care of any possible allergies that might attack us in these blooming months. Marshall's Farm Natural Honey's gold label has a little red sketch of the Golden Gate Bridge with a yin-yang rising over it. This jar is specifically "S.F. Bay Area Beekeeper's Blend: A blend of honey's from the counties by the bay," so we are really fully protected now. Apparently, Marshall's Farm's bees draw their nectar from eucalyptus, star thistle, wildflower, blackberry, and other flora around the Bay, which allow for variations in flavor and color. Everything about honey -- where it comes from, how it's made, what wondrous things can be done with it -- should make me love it but I don't; there's something far too self-satisfied about its cloying sweetness.

Spring is also a time for other new flavors. For the last few months, I've had a bag of shelled (for convenience sake) edamame in our freezer but not really had the will to do a thing with it. Tonight, I did. I boiled it, drained it, cooled it off, and tossed it in a dressing of lemon juice, coarse mustard, garlic, parmesan cheese and ruby grapefruit olive oil. This olive oil from O (again, LOCAL!) is the newest flavor in the Keckler household. I meant to grab a bottle of Meyer lemon olive oil but Fate or something made me bag this one by mistake. It's lovely. The bright tanginess of the oil has a depth that you can find only in the blushing wet flesh of a grapefruit. I'd drink it if I wasn't assured of a heart attack immediately afterwards.

Clearly for me, in spring a young woman's fancy turns to thoughts of food.

As usual.

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