Cherries and asparagus always meet at a certain time in spring and at a particular market in San Rafael, California. As if in a May-December romance, the asparagus is on the way out while the cherries are on the way in. They sit adjacent to one another among a sea of produce stands. Their rendezvous is but a short one and lasts only a week or two. Then the asparagus quickly disappears along with the people who sell it. The cherries are left to fend for themselves but their season isn't a long one. Soon they make way for the stalwarts of summer: tomatoes, eggplant, basil, and sweet corn.
Cherries indeed have a short but demanding life. They seduce the shoppers with their color and sweetness. Clawing hands grope and grab at them, shoveling them into bags by the handful and bruising some in the process. Some cherries tumble to the ground and are crushed. Others are popped into the mouths of sneaky gropers who think that they're being clever—but everyone notices these grazers for what they are. Their ilk is frowned upon at the cherries stands and elsewhere. At least it's impossible to sneakily graze upon asparagus spears.
Asparagus and cherries are the bookmarks of spring. Asparagus lead us into the warmth of spring and cherries usher us out into the glaring sun of summer. But, it is that middle time of spring when the season is most magical. It is ripe with possibilities, cool breezes, and delicate produce. And it is the time when asparagus and cherries dance together for a brief, fleeting moment. Some encounters are measured by the sublime and not in length of time.