Today was my first trip to a New England farmer's market. Yep, it's taken more than two years to get myself there, although I do frequent my neighbor's farm stand. And it turns out that, at least on this blustery day, our little, local farmer's market was about the equivalent of my neighbor's roadside hut.
I know I've rattled on about my love of sidewalk wandering in Alameda, perusing the downtown book shop and stopping for a mocha with whippy or a scoop of macapuno ice cream, but I may not have mentioned that when I wandered in the other direction, at least on a Tuesday morning, I hit the farmer's market. It was more like a festival, really. Vendors sold produce, of course, but also artisan bread, fresh pastries, cut flowers, quail eggs, kettle corn, and roasted rosemary chicken. A local musician strummed his guitar in one corner, and baby-wearing mamas chatted each other up while sampling strawberries and nectarines.
My friend Monkey Mama and I filled our bags, popped into the taqueria for a quick bite, and walked the kidlets to the park for the afternoon. That routine is on my top five play list of what I miss most about California.
As much as I wanted fresh, local food out here in The Woods, I was afraid my disappointment would send me packing if the market didn't measure up to what I'd known. It came to represent so much more than just produce: year-round sunshine, sidewalks, downtown, time with friends, community, belonging.
Today Buckaroo and I spent the afternoon at a playdate with new friends and passed the farmer's market on the way home. As I pulled in across from the park, I spied two tiny stands between one port-a-potty, and that was it. I knew there was a time not too long ago when that sight would have sent me into quiet hysterics.
Also, though, I saw Grateful Mama and her little ones running across the field with their new puppy, Daisy. Grateful Mama was so joyful, I couldn't help but be happy too. We chatted while dabbling in plums, and she invited Buckaroo and me over for a playdate, even promising us bounty from her garden.
So, no. There were no gourmet foodstuffs, no scent of salty sweet popcorn wafting through the stalls, but there was laughter, and as it was the two vendors had everything I needed for tonight's homemade pizza. On the drive home I thought about how many new friends we've made here-- even becoming so close to some New England friends that I shed many tears when they moved away.
It's as hokey as all get-out, but I remind myself that we miss what we miss, the people and the places, because we love them and possibly they loved us back. How lucky is that? And what is the alternative? To go through life without creating community, resisting love? I certainly resisted the farmer's market, and how many playdate invites did Buckaroo and I miss, how many opportunities to create community, because of my snobbishness? I'll never know.
In any case, I have a delicious recipe for kettle corn. Maybe next week we'll pop it up and take some with us to share.