farmer’s market saturdays: a celebration of summer’s harvest

Smoothies (fresh peach with fresh peppermint, blueberry, lemon with fresh basil) made on blenders powered by bicycle (“wheely good smoothies”—$5.00 if you pedal; $5.50 if you don’t). Crepes (banana and nutella, apples and cinnamon sugar, peaches, blueberries and brown sugar) and breakfast sandwiches. Trying to stand in line amidst the steady push and flow (“I’m sorry, were you in front of us?” “No, I don’t think so.”). Empanadas, samosas, soups, curry, a thai stall. Artisan breads, muffins (carrot and raisin, ginger mango (surprisingly good!), chocolate chocolate chip), pastries (strawberry and chocolate croissants, cream cheese danish with coconut [or without]).

Watermelons, cantaloupe, honeydew, asian, korean, and canary melons. Peppers: italian sweet, poblano, jalapeño, yellow, green, red, purple, white. Musicians on the periphery—a drummer, a floutist, a guitarist in the middle of it all, someone playing a bagpipe off to one side. The hula hoop sales—the few who know how to do it … and the many more who don’t. Not as many plants as earlier in the summer though plenty of cut flowers: one huge table overflowing with bright sunflowers, another with zinnias, lilies, glads, and hydrangea.

Tomatos of every hue: rosa, nebraska wedding, red zebra, cherokee purple, tigerella, striped german, black ethiopian, brandywine, paul robeson, japanese black trifele, purple calabash, arkansas travelers, golden ponderosa, costoluto fiorentino, black krim (“What’s the best kind for a really good tomato sandwich?” “Hmm, I like the brandywine, the black krim. The cherokee purple has a real rich taste—little more acid than some, but more sugar as well, so you get those tastes playing off each other.” [Kudos for that recommendation, by the way!])

Squash of every shape. Lavender and purple eggplant—and some that looked tie-dyed. Okra. Garlic. A truck bed full of sweet corn. Blackberries. Yellow and white peaches, doughnut peaches (“Go ahead. Try one.”). Apples: ginger gold, summer treat, grenadier, paula reds, zestar, sansa, pristine. Plums: ozark, sugar, shiro, vicounte, formosa plums. Carrots—some of which could only be called CARROTS (we got one as big as my forearm!). Onions, red onions, vidalia onions.

The creamery with its refridgerated truck—its milks (chocolate milk that tastes like a milkshake)—one lady getting up to the table, pulling five empty glass milk containers out of her purse! Homemade cheeses, butter, ice cream. Eggs. Cabbage. Red cabbage. We buried our noses in big woven baskets of herbs: sage and oregeno, peppermint, parsley, chives, cilantro, thyme, basil, purple basil. You ever smelled chocolate mint—not as candy, but an herb? Shelled black-eyed peas (“My daughter shelled those so you wouldn’t have to”). Rhubarb. Green beans. Beets: midnight and chiogga.

Greens: arugula, boston lettuce, red leaf lettuce, swiss chard (we’re having spanakopita!), kale, beet greens, spinach, mesclun, purslane (“Oh, there was an article in the paper about purslane recently.” “Yes, go ahead and try it. Take a stem.”) Zeke’s coffee—great coffee and great t-shirts too. Handmade soaps. A mushroom display: oyster, shitake, maitake, crimini, button, portabello. Nuts: pecans and walnuts, fresh roasted peanuts, flavored peanuts (got to have those “Old Bay” peanuts!), soy nuts, flax seed, wasabi peas. Chutney, jams, preserves, marmalades, honey. A pottery table with the potter nervously watching the crowds pressing in on her table.

People of all ages (though not that many youth—lots of babies and young children, lots of college and young career, young family—not so many in between). All manner of informal dress. More t-shirts than anything else. Sandals and flip-flops outweighing any other form of footwear. Tattoos and piercings, a man in a dress. People in casts, knee braces, with walkers, in wheelchairs. Individuals. Couples holding hands. Families trying to stay together—to keep an eye on what was available and an eye on their younger members who had their own ideas about what looked good. Just about everyone carried bags: canvas bags, recycled, reusable bags, insulated bags, plastic bags. Empty carried into the market, full on the way out.

There were some with dogs, many more with strollers and backpacks. Lots of bikes around the perimeter. My wife met two former colleagues from work. We met another family of ministers (husband and wife work in a church, the children, de facto, live there). A young man tapped my wife on the shoulder and handed her the $10 bill she had dropped. We talked to the family next to whom we sat to eat. Lots of smiles—a willingness to engage in conversation.

People gathered for the fresh sustenance they need for another week. Gathered for the energy, the community, the smells and the tastes, the life, the fun and the joy. A vibrant, diverse, friendly congregation celebrating the good gifts of the earth with, here and there, a few, giving thanks to God.

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