This I Believe

Phyllis - Delmar, New York
Entered on May 23, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: community, nature

All over the country, outdoor markets have returned, offering fresh produce and a whole lot more.

This I Believe: Attending A Farmer’s Market is An Addiction to be Cultivated

It’s the peak of summer, and my addiction is in full bloom. I must have my weekly “fix” at the Farmer’s Market or life is unbearable.

Every Tuesday, a church parking lot in my town is transformed into a showcase of the local harvest, and I’m transformed into a messenger of Mother Earth, compelled to gather in my arms all varieties of fresh produce.

I arrive early because the flower lady, her plastic buckets stuffed with blooms, often sells out in the first hour. Strolling from stall to stall, a bouquet in the crook of my arm, I greet other market devotees.

We, the certifiably addicted, line up for grainy breads, berry pies, and homemade cheeses.

From local growers, I collect a sampling of almost everything displayed on their tables, and pile the bounty in my straw basket. I select a deep palette of colors— radishes, peppers, basil and beans, plums, cherries, kohlrabi, corn, peaches, and dazzling sunflowers, cocks combs, and lilies.

At home, I arrange everything on my kitchen counter in vases and crockery of various sizes and hues. The sight of this voluptuous still life makes me giddy. I want to shout “Behold the beauty and freshness of my harvest! Mother Earth’s Masterpiece!”

But fresh produce is not the only reason I return week after week to the Farmer’s Market. In this post 9/11 world, I find refuge there, a harkening back to a simpler time—market day in the village square, neighbors and friends talking face to face, a reprieve from the serious reports on the evening news. For a brief interlude in the afternoon sun, life is as it should be.

Amidst the farmer’s umbrellas, vegetables and fruits, I find comfort and calm, the perfect antidote for a hurry-up world

This ritual provides the chance to savor it all—the perfumes emanating from tomatoes and cucumbers that have not been refrigerated; the sweetness of leaf lettuce picked in dew; the tang of watercress too young to be bitter; the burst of flavor from blueberries right off their stem. The intoxication of summer.

Is this what our cave-dwelling sisters felt at the arrival of summer plants? Since the dawn of time, women gathered grains, berries and roots for the family, while men hunted big game. Most of the year, we 21st century gatherers are relegated to indoor supermarkets, but in summer some of us return to the open air to revel in nature’s profundity.

It’s an ever-changing assortment of fresh edibles. My fellow addicts and I mark the weeks of summer passing, as crops rotate from snap peas and strawberries, to zucchini and cukes, to apples and pumpkins.

When October arrives and the Farmer’s Market retires for the winter, it’s a sad time, marked by painful withdrawal. Unless you find an indoor Farmer’s Market to tide you over the winter. For I believe, attending a Farmer’s Market is an addiction to be cultivated.