The small city I live by is offering a local farmers’ market every Thursday
through the summer. All the venders have to be located within a 50 mile radius
of the city. Unlike your typical downtown farmers’ market, the produce
is not trucked in from Florida, Texas, or even California. It is truly local.
This is the third year of the experiment of local farmers selling directly to the public. Honestly, it’s the most progressive and wonderful experiment the city has ever done. Thus the title of this rant, How I found My Bliss at the Farmers’ Market.
The time was 1PM, the day was sunny and hot. I arrived with my daughter and two oversized, reusable bags. The market had just opened and rung its ceremonial bell to commence the selling. Well, I usually just avoid that part. I don’t need to hover. If it is something my family will eat, I’m gonna buy.
Alabama is known for its peaches. But let me tell you, I scored the juiciest, sweetest, richest strawberries. The color popped a bright hot red. The berries glowed under the warm loving blue skies. As we walked along, coming to the last little white tent, I finally made up my mind to buy those strawberries. We had passed half a dozen tents already laden with shiny strawberries, “Why this tent?” my daughter asked. The farmer gestured to a basket of berries,
“Try one.” he beckoned. We did, heaven!! Sold!
“I just picked these this morning.” he added. You had me at try one.......
Don’t even get me started on the greens. The butter lettuce, red lettuce, spinach,
and romaine. “I just picked these this morning,” I keep hearing, “this is gonna be the last, it’s
getting too hot for lettuce.” The farmer had them arranged in coolers, in plastic ziplock bags with the tops open; one whiff sent me back to a field of grass from 1968 somewhere in my childhood. The butter lettuce melts in your mouth---it is beyond sublime. Visions of the supreme salad I was going to create floated in my head.
Standing before me, a table laden with purple onions, still attached to their
green tops, lustrous and smelling divine. I love onions, all kinds, but
these, they were so perfect. Can I use that word, perfect; is anything
ever perfect? Well I had found perfection, in the form of an onion, a strawberry,
a soft leaf of lettuce. And broccoli, with the leaves still attached, just pulled
from the ground that morning, as the refrain goes. That was the first time I had ever seen
the complete plant, head and leaves, soft rich, striking deep green.
Later, as the plant cooked in a pot of water, with a dash of salt, it turned a deep
olive green, and smelt funky. Wow, no butter needed!
I found bliss in the heat, in the early summer-late spring. For we have a joke
about Alabama, “ You got winter, and you got summer.” This market didn’t
just offer some of the best local produce, but had an extra treat: a couple
of elderly black ladies selling baked goods.
Cookies made with love (or magic),so sweet, crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth.
The ladies see me coming and they smile for they know I’m going to
buy a bunch of cookies. Oatmeal walnut, chocolate chip, heath cookies,
peanut butter. Fried apple and peach pies. Cake with fresh peach baked in.
For sugar hounds like me and my daughter, it’s paradise!
So I carry my reusable bags laden with local produce, and cookies
made with magic, back to the car. I can’t help but think how lucky
I am to find this place with these gifts from the earth,
and how great it feels to pop a fresh strawberry in your mouth and let
the juice roll down your chin, knowing all the time you found bliss,
real bliss in a few minutes at the local farmers’ market. Thank you,
and I can’t wait for next Thursday to do it all over again.