“Produce. This is Mike.”
“Hi Mike. I’m wondering if you have any rhubarb today."
“Rhubarb? No. No rhubarb.”
“Any chance you will be getting some in for the weekend?”
“The weekend? No.”
“Any chance you can order a case for next week?”
“Mike? Any chance you’ll be getting in some rhubarb next week?”
“Rhubarb? Next week? Uh, no.”
Now I’m silent and Mike is silent and there’s nothing but silence except for a static-y intercom in the background asking for Mike-in-Produce to pick up. Clearly it’s time for Mike to squash someone else’s produce dreams. Before hanging up, I ask once more, with feeling.
“Maybe I’ll check in with you next week, Mike, in case you do receive a shipment. Okay?”
“Ok. Next week. Call.” Click.
When the calendar flips from March to April, I’m always rhubarb hopeful. Unable to secure a single stalk of pinky green pie plant is hugely disappointing. My freezer stash of 2017 rhubarb has dwindled down to one final Ziploc bag. When it’s gone, it’s gone, forcing me to hold my breath until Mike can come through with the goods. This is sad news, because in my mind, Passover and rhubarb have always been joined at the hip. Unable to look another macaroon in the eye, and with an empty dessert plate glaring from my faux marble counter, I chisel the plastic bag from the freezer with a slotted spoon.
According to whencanieatbread.com, the holiday is scheduled to conclude at 8:10 pm Saturday evening. I have yet to fall off the matzoh wagon, but I’m teetering on the brink. Within cIose proximity of the bakery are two retail emporiums capable of pushing me over the edge. Not only does Bagel Chateau tempt with its doughy hole-in-the-middle-whole wheat-everything offering, I can practically reach and out and touch the very best pizza in town. The struggle is real, but finite, and in the grand scheme of things, fairly insignificant.
The month of March brought more than Easter and Passover. It felt the need to burden with unforeseen snowfalls and free falls, stopping too many of my favorite women in their tracks. Fractures were as common as the snowflake symbol on my weather app, impacting wrists, ankles, and femurs. The aftermath of what Merriam-Webster defines as “the condition of unrestrained motion in a gravitational field,” is proving to be painful and tedious, as unwelcome as the snow rumored to arrive early this morning. As the first week of April winds down, it is unsettling to hear the contradictory sounds of snowplows and birdsong.
The sobering news from the Whole Foods produce department forces me to unzip the weathered Ziploc bag, sending a paltry two cups of small dice rhubarb into a heavy bottomed saucepan. I add an equal amount of anemic strawberries, a generous handful of dark brown sugar, a good sprinkle of cardamom. Hitting the heat, the fruit melts into a puddle of crimson speckled with a little too much orange zest. Already the air is filled with more April, less March. Littering the floor with crumbs, I toss the empty matzoh box into the recycle.