This I Believe:
One should live in very close proximity to happy vegetables.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that every man, woman, and child on the planet is required to be a master gardener, or even own a houseplant. I am of the firm opinion that some things, like automobile repair, croissant baking, and – yes – veggie growing, are best left to the professionals. I would just like to take this moment to implore men and women, and children everywhere to get up, pack a bag, and move to where the land is fertile and the air cool.
A story will help me explain: not very long ago, I arrived, wrecked, into San Francisco International Airport. I came from Vancouver, where 5 years of romantic daydreams were snuffed into humiliation in a matter of minutes, my heart soundly broken. I fled for the sweet arms of my mother’s house, nestled in the spicy, dry hills of Sonoma county. Fetched from the baggage claim by my younger sister, we packed straight across the Bay to Berkeley. Yes, we were to head north, but it was market day, after all.
Having lived in Berkeley for ten years, I stepped into the market, literally into my own past. Within moments, I recognized ex-lovers and old friends, the same musician torturing the same banjo. Walking into the haze, the market’s periphery smeared into a batiked blur, only the vegetables, the stars of the now-silent show, remaining in focus. Papery, purpled garlic lured me to one stand, only to lose my attentions just as quickly to strawberries, studded and succulent, peppercress kinked as my mother’s hair, asparagus lying languorously like a waif in a Gucci ad, dew drops paused ever so.
As I walked, my heart ached with beauty, and with the letting go of a lost lover. I walked that aisle, navigating patchouli clouds and recumbent bikes, soothed by the reassurance of the earth I stood on, reminded that its goodness could be procured at the gentle touch of a kind hand, requiring neither nefarious chemicals, nor artillery, caucuses, or treatises, and that I would be well if I ate well. I awoke at the end of the market, laden with melty olive bread, three pints of strawberries, a bunch of radishes, three pounds of shelling peas, a handful of parsley and mint, and freed of the bruises of failed love. I was headed towards family and home, sure that I was safe in the world.
Although I’ve lived in New York for the last few years, I sit now in Seattle, my fridge jammed with forest mushrooms and the most beautiful turnips I’ve ever seen. I am supposed to return to New York in the fall, but I wouldn’t count on that if I were you. In New York, apples languish in the markets, ever pithy, from October through June, and my spirits dry with them. In the few months when other veggies do appear, they wilt on the stands like the tongues of so many thirsty dogs. I might tell those concerned with the wisdom of my choices that I thought it best to stay in Seattle because it’s cheaper here, but don’t you be fooled. It will be September then, and the berries on Bainbridge Island will be huge.
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