Still I have the warmth of the sun within me tonight.
– The Beach Boys
Tonight, the weather forecast is the same no matter where I look. The Weather Network has the most dire prediction – an overnight low of -31C, the wind making it feel like -38 . Environment Canada is marginally more optimistic, calling for a low of -28, with a wind chill of minus 3o. AccuWeather agrees with those numbers, and offers the assessment that these are “bitterly cold” temperatures. Inexplicably, it also warns us of a “cold wave starting Thursday. “
Meanwhile, I’ve got July in a crystal dish on my kitchen counter.
Not the whole month, of course. Just a few minutes spent in our backyard raspberry patch, the early morning sun already warm on my neck, the neighborhood Sunday serene. That day, bitter cold only existed in my imagination and our freezer, where I balanced cookie sheets covered in wax paper and raspberries on top of boxes of popsicles, packages of rib eye steaks, and a half bag of perogies hoarded since Christmas. In less than an hour, I’d captured the sunny sweetness of that morning inside dozens of berries, scooped them up, and sealed them inside a large plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
There they slept for 7 months. Tonight, it’s time to release their magic. This takes a warm kitchen, patience and a keen nose. At first sniff, their aroma is still locked inside ice crystals. A half hour later, and a faint pink tickle wafts up. Thirty minutes more, and I’m inhaling their full-throated, ruby harvest perfume. The time is ripe.
Now for the Dairy Queen™ soft serve. The young guy behind the counter looked at me a bit quizzically earlier this evening when I ordered a single serving to go, no topping. I pull it out of the freezer, and let it thaw just until it begins to puddle slightly in the plastic cup. I spoon the white drifts into a second dish, and place the raspberries on top, a painter daubing crimson on canvas.
With closed eyes, I savor the first spoonful. The mingling of creamy satin sweetness and juicy berry tang is full summer on the tongue. Another mouthful and my kitchen window springs open. The air is July gentle, and my neighbor’s two-year-old granddaughter is shrieking with delight as she splashes in her grandparents’ wading pool. A third bite, and flowers in full bloom appear outside my back door , gushing over the sides of their containers.
Too soon, I’m scraping the bottom of the dish. All I see now outside is the wind bouncing the dark tangle of elm branches against a chilly sky. A frozen white poinsettia languishes by my neighbor’s back door, its gold foil wrapped pot glinting faintly under the porch light. But, I’ve renewed my faith that spring will come, and summer will follow. And if I need another reminder, Dairy Queen is open until 10 p.m. and my frozen raspberry cache is far from depleted.