Raspberries, Mushrooms, Garlic, Plums, Peace

farmers-marketFor ten summers, with varying frequency, I’ve been taking my daughters to the Saturday Farmers’ Market. In more ways than I could have ever expected, it has saved our sanity.

We began going to the Farmers’ Market as a way to preserve the parenting energy my husband and I needed. He and I made a pact after our second child was born: each of us would ensure the other got to sleep “late” (read: 8 am) one day a week. He slept “late” on Saturdays and I claimed Sundays. On Sunday mornings, he packed our squealing, chattering daughters quickly into the car — sometimes in their pajamas — to go to Home Depot, which was sometimes the only place open on Sundays. There, he handed them paint sample cards to carry and let them touch all the doorknobs while he mused over the varying bolts and power tools that just might be required for his next renovation project in our old townhouse.

On Saturdays, I took the girls to the Farmers’ Market. It opened at 7:30 am, and some Sundays, we parked our car in the tall parking garage overlooking the Market and watched as the farmers set up their stands. Had we stayed home, I would have been aggressively shushing them, desperately trying to give their father the sleep he’d earned yesterday in the dawn at Home Depot. Out of the house, I somehow discovered the reserves to be patient.

“Look,” I’d say. “Look at all the flowers in that truck!”

vegetarian-dinnerWalking through the market in those early years was a logistical challenge. The baby would be in a sling on my hip and the preschooler in the stroller; or the baby would go in the stroller and the preschooler would hold her hand and walk; or both of them would take turns shifting from stroller to sling to walking and back again, satisfied with their position only for a few minutes at a time. Still, I remember those mornings as a respite from my frustration with the rest of our lives: a sick baby who never slept, constant worry, my own insomnia. At the Market, I convinced my older daughter to find a rainbow — one fruit or vegetable for every color. I handed my baby chunks of juicy peaches to suck and, when she was in the sling nearly asleep against my chest and her sister was happily eating raspberries in the stroller, I could breathe for a minute, notice the sun above me, and consider — even briefly — whether there was anything here that I might like to cook later that day, after their father woke up.

kid-raspberriesAs they got older, we kept coming. When my little daughter was forced to follow a maddening elimination diet, the Farmers’ Market was one of the only places where she could eat nearly everything on offer. She was almost five by then, and I could hand her some money and send her to our favorite fruit vendor. She’d point to blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and what that farmer called “multicultural tomatoes,” a mix of grape tomatoes in half a dozen colors. At some point most weeks, she’d also convince me to buy a bag of earthy “baby bella” mushrooms from the mushroom farmer, and she’d happily brush the dirt off of them before eating them raw as we walked.

My older daughter had begun to pay attention to the vegetables we received in a box each week from a local farm through a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program and to identify her favorites. If they were not in our box, she would suggest we buy some, reminding me: “Momma, we need arugula and garlic. Momma, did we get potatoes?”

After the worst of the elimination diet was done, we began to seek out fresh eggs at the Market. I’d been complacently buying eggs at the grocery store like everyone else I knew until a friend shared some truly farm-fresh eggs with me. The difference is remarkable and so, after that, we had “egg guys” at the Market, for chicken eggs and, as the years passed, duck eggs that made every baked  good we cooked extra rich and delicious. The egg guys also sell the most delicious plums we’ve ever had, several of which never make it home from the Market if my older daughter is with me.

The Farmers’ Market is a great equalizer in many ways. When my children don’t come with me — more and more common each year — I can look around and see the range of humanity present at all the stages in which I’ve found myself there. There are mothers and babies; whole families with sticky, peach-covered toddlers; single men and women moving with purpose toward their favorite stalls; older couples; and parents of all ages pushing children of all ages in wheelchairs ranging from simple to complex. On the most perfect sunny days at the Farmers’ Market, I can see the gratitude wafting off of all of us. The fruit is sweet, the vegetables and jams and salsas presented with such possibility and potential, and, for we city dwellers, the smell of the earth closer than it is any other time of the week. This place is, without a doubt, my favorite part of summer.

I’ve found peace at the Farmers’ Market for a decade now and, looking around, I have no doubt that it will wait for me there for years to come.

 

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, hosted by Kristi of FindingNinee.com. This week’s sentence is “The things I love and hate about summer…”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrmailby feather
twitterby feather

8 thoughts on “Raspberries, Mushrooms, Garlic, Plums, Peace

  1. This is beautiful! Such vivid imagery. I almost feel like I’m at the Farmer’s Market (and want to go now). I’m impressed your daughter ate raw mushrooms!! Seriously. And farm fresh eggs are the best. Duck eggs are richer than chicken eggs? I’d never heard that. Do you only use them for baking or do people scramble them and eat them that way, too?

    • Oh my gosh, Kristi, duck eggs are AMAZING in baking. They are a little gamey for my taste to eat on their own, though we did it once and I can confirm that it’s possible. I cannot recommend them highly enough for things like chocolate chip cookies or braided egg bread (aka challah). They’re about 1.5 times the size of a chicken egg, so adjust your recipes accordingly.

      And as for the mushrooms, what can I say? She has always had unusual taste. I came down one morning recently and she was eating cold leftover Chinese food for breakfast!

  2. I was getting seriously hungry reading this…I envy your farmer’s market! We have fairly good ones here in Anchorage…but the fresh fruits…oh my. And I lovelovelove duck eggs. My Great-Uncle Kenny had ducks and a stinky old goat and a lake on his teensy little farm in the Ozarks…and that’s a memory I treasure, eating duck eggs at Uncle Kenny’s place. I think you and your husband have done a great job of building a family tradition. Ours varied, but we always had some special summer things…going to Family Camp every 4th of July at Camp Maranatha in Big Lake, Alaska…going to the Elmendorf AFB Air Show every summer and eating cotton candy and barbecued turkey legs…one year we got to climb a ladder and look at the cockpit of a Stealth fighter while grim men with guns stood by. Great memories…thanks for sharing!

  3. Ohh.. I so know this feeling. And I’ve never tried duck eggs although my neighbor has ducks and sells the eggs! Now I must. We have 11 chickens and may need to vary it up.
    I’ve been taking my kids to the farmers market since they were born. They’re now four and seven and still very much into it, but I look around at the younger mothers with babies, and I feel sorta old. Even though I’m in my 30’s and still on the fence about another baby.
    I just remember those early days so well.. the rainbows of colors. The sticky fruits.

    • Duck eggs are just awesome in baked goods! Definitely try them if you can. And the ducks themselves can be very friendly, I hear. A friend of mine has one who snuggles with her son every day when he gets home from school!

  4. I love a good farmers market and your title for this post definitely grabbed me. Love your beautiful descriptions. What you said about finding peace there is so true. I get that. Farmer’s market, our CSA farm, and the library do it for me.

  5. I didn’t start with the CSA and farmer’s markets until my kids were in elementary school, but they always loved going. I so enjoyed your reminiscing of summers past with your girls, and now I can’t wait to go to the farmers’ market on Wednesday!

  6. What a beautiful pictures you paint with words about the farmer’s market. I need to search one out in my area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *