Friday, July 11, 2008

my favorite way to spend a friday afternoon: old oakland housewives' farmers' market

the perky cute young brunette stands behind 3 ironing boards in primary colors, red, yellow, blue, upon which are stacked cookies and scones. i ask her about them, but really i don't care, i just want to chat her up. she describes the scones so well that i buy some just to keep her talking. i tell her the ironing boards remind me of my grandmother who used to iron her line dried cotton sheets and pillow cases. she throws in some cookies with the scones.

i wander over to the cheese stall and bug the same guy i bugged last week for a free taste of his "sharpest cheddar." it's clear he loves to talk about the cheese; he works for a small dairy and brings his cheese to market each week, just like dairy farmers have been doing for centuries. i'm lured into buying his colby jack, though i'd have rather had a tangier version, they were sold out. i'm lazy; i love to sleep in and i've missed both the savory quark and the sharper cheeses. but i haven't yet tried his lemon quark so i get some to go on the scones; i've had the vanilla bean and loved it.

i sit down by an office worker, a young asian american woman, who's gotten the afghani bread and roasted garlic eggplant topping for lunch; i often buy it and we chat about how good it is. the blues man sings and plays his guitar in the background; he has a semi-regular gig here and he's my favorite. usually his daughter comes and belts out a few numbers while tapping her four year old feet; but she's missing today.

the office worker moves on and another man comes to sit down. we bond over our love of fresh, slow food. the scones melt in my mouth, the quark is a wonderful mix of sour and sweet. we talk for half an hour about our college age kids and how we can only keep up with where they are by checking their myspace or facebook pages; his are on a band tour in middle america, mine in summer-abroad study programs .

the market is about to close so i gather up my lunch and walk up the closed off normally-busy downtown street to buy my vegetables and fruits for the week.

new red potatoes, thin wiry green beans, yellow crook neck squash, fuzzy okra which takes me back to the south. they will make a few fine suppers!

the organic stalls give me two for one since it's about closing time: bright shiny strawberries and raspberries so plump they make your mouth water. they press me to eat a tart plum while i stand there, juices dripping down my mouth.

this is contentment, this is peace. this is what i moved here for, this is love.

this is coming full circle: from the hot fields of my childhood, behind mama's house where i used to go pick the tomatoes and help her can them for winter, to my progressive sustainable bay area farmer's market.

i'm so happy. mama and papa, my mother's farmer parents, would be too, if they could see me now.

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