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Sum ... Sum ... Summertime
July 5, 2010 - 9:19pm

I love summertime.

Not because I get summers off -- I'm a twelve-month employee, and many of my campus-improvement projects are scheduled for summer. In some ways, summer is the busiest time of year for me.

And not because it's warm. I'm at an age where summer temperatures, even up here in the Northeast, aren't "warm". They're "hot". And my body doesn't tolerate heat as well as it once did.

And not (or at least, not primarily) because the days are long and sunny. Winter days are too short and too dark (get up in the dark, drive home in the dark), but by the first of March that's no longer a problem. What's a problem come mid-May is roosters who awake at the crack of false dawn (as early as 4:00 a.m.) and think you should, too.

I love summer because I love to eat. And the eating is better when the food (particularly the fruits and vegetables) is fresh.

Now if I were a devout local-vore, the pickings would be scarce until about mid-July. But I'm not that devout. The local-er, the better, but there's no sense getting crazy about these things. By mid-to-late June, the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is pretty great.

(For what it's worth, meat runs on a different schedule. We feed the animals up during the summer and fall, slaughter in late fall or early winter, and eat out of the freezer for the rest of the year. And fish is available fresh pretty much year-round.)

I don't do anything too fancy with my poultry, meat or fish, so the flavor in the meal comes mostly from the fruit and veg. And you can do a lot with fruit and veg.

Anyway, summer is the time for good eating. Which means, to my mind, that it could be a major opportunity to help our urban- and suburban-raised students to appreciate the cycles and the wonders of nature -- the real world that was here before TV and will be here after it's gone.

But, of course, summer is also the season when we have the least ability to help our students appreciate anything. Because the cycles and wonders of higher education are tied to the implicit assumption that students' lives are closer related to food production than they are to food consumption. And, at one time, I guess that was true.


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