I have enormous respect for the power of marking a year, whether it’s a birthday, New Years, an anniversary, or a blogoversary. Anniversaries of any kind give us the chance to stop and think about how we’ve spent our time in the last revolution around the sun and what we plan to do in the next one. April 22 marked my three-year anniversary of this blog, and it sort of sneaked up on me. It turns out that I haven’t logged in to this site in over a month, due primarily to a significant case of writer’s block. And photographer’s block. And kitcheneer’s block.
The truth is I have struggled over the last few months. Despite the fact that I work fewer hours, have more days off, and enjoy a kitchen filled with natural light, I’ve found myself groaning over the notion of cooking even familiar meals and not in the least bit interested in climbing atop a step stool angling for a shot. The muse that once perched on my shoulder whispering words, recipes, and stories into my eager ears seems to have folded her arms and sealed her lips. I’ve become increasingly frustrated that I can’t seem to get back into the productive rhythm to which I had grown so accustomed in North Carolina and have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why. Did I really manage to pack up everything I owned but forget to bring with me my inspiration, my drive for sharing this locavore’s story? Is it still sitting on the counter in my dimly-lit kitchen, or perhaps hiding in the grass next to my ever-fertile community garden plot?
Or did it survive the move after all, frozen but intact despite this deeply unpleasant winter, but is simply too nervous to peek its head out for fear of another frost?
Part of it, perhaps, has been the stark contrast in growing seasons between Ohio and North Carolina. For all the pleasant surprise I experienced in a place where strawberries flourished in April, I’ve experienced just as much disappointment at how long is has seemed to take fresh produce to make its way to the farmers markets here.
To be sure, there are some benefits to the local fare in the north: I’ve been happily buying apples since I arrived in January, stored from the prolific orchards that seem to do well here in the cooler climes. There’s a fair amount of locally-raised meat available, and I pretty much have my pick of any kind of local cheese I could possibly want. But each week of the last month or so, as I’ve walked into the indoor winter farmers market north of Columbus, I’ve thought, this is the week I’ll walk home with a grocery bag heavy with asparagus, radishes, sweet peas, strawberries, and rhubarb.
It has yet to be that week.
But I think it might be coming soon. The trees have burst into blossoms in the last couple of weeks, the days are warmer, and I attended the first outdoor farmers market of the season this weekend: sure signs that the farms and gardens that wreathe the city are beginning production once more.
It’s going to be quite an adjustment to keep up my quest for local eating in a colder climate. Not impossible, but harder. I’m already looking ahead to August and September and contemplating what I may need to can to get through the much longer winters. I will probably need to get more creative with my recipes from January through April since a bounty of fresh local produce simply won’t exist.
It’s funny how these things become a part of you. How these ideas turn into hobbies, the hobbies become quests, and the quests begin to define you. I’ve been worried that the renaissance I experienced as a cook, a writer, and a photographer in the early days of this blog has passed, but instead of deciding to throw in the towel and turn in my domain name, I feel guilty when I realize how long it’s been since my last post. Like I’ve abandoned someone I love. Or worse, myself.
I am, however, optimistic. It might have been foolish to think that I could just pick up where I left off, that my adjustment to an entirely new city, new job, new apartment, and new foodscape would be seamless. Perhaps I just needed some hibernation, some time to accept what I no longer have access to, before I could really appreciate what I do have here. A sunny, light-filled home that overlooks a park and a gently flowing river. A vibrant city filled with fascinating restaurants, cafés, and food trucks. A balcony with enough sunshine to grow food (though maybe a bit too much wind, more on that later), and a rooftop garden at my job (more on that too). An entirely new climate to learn about, new farmers to meet, and a new understanding of what is in season and when.
Like spring, I think I’m waking up now, and ready to get back to it.