OUR LIVES ALFRESCO
In late March 2020, when there seemed to be little if anything that was both fun and safe to do outside the four walls of our homes, I thought about the cherries that would soon be ripening in the orchards of Brentwood. An email to the growers association, Harvest Time in Brentwood, elicited this reply:
“We are holding strategy meetings to decide how many new ways we can get fresh local products to people. This year is going to be a challenge for sure. Things are still fluid at this point and in a best case scenario, things should be on track for normal operations in May, but worst case … not good.”
By May, Steve Gursky was able to affirm that u-pick orchards would be open with safety protocols that each farm was busy devising, but the word from the Office of the Governor was that we were not to do anything outside our homes that was nonessential. Procuring food was essential, but there was the added restriction that we were not to travel across county lines.
“What a difference a year makes” is an understatement in 2021, and even though Covid danger still lurks, impressive adaptations across all sectors of society make everything again seem possible—including glorious u-picking in Brentwood, as you’ll see in our beautifully photographed What’s in Season story. And we’ve discovered a great many other ways to entertain ourselves in the great outdoors (to steal a headline from our restaurant explorer, Meredith Pakier), including foraging at the seashore and exploring Russia via the Kolobok food truck.
The arduous workarounds thrust on us during the pandemic have resulted in a greater understanding of our resilience, and in that, we have also realized how much more we can achieve, whether that’s with medical advancement or moving food around to where it’s needed. The discovery out in the West Contra Costa School District that going all organic could be affordable within a food service budget is a great example of the discoveries that can come out of a resilient recovery, just like newly walkable neighborhoods with expanded outdoor dining have brought us so much more into a sense of shared community.
Whatever we do this summer, we’re sure to appreciate it more than ever before.
Cheryl Angelina Koehler