Sunday, July 26, 2009

Square 41: Farmers' market

Square 041

This is the last weekend before the move, and my consciousness is on high alert. I've been waking early without aid of the clock alarm. Yesterday morning I took the opportunity to drive down to Guelph Farmers' Market at 7:30 before the big crowds hit.

It isn't a larger farmers' market and remains essentially unchanged since the 1980s when I was a university student, but whenever you mention it, a Guelph person will smile or start speaking with a ringing warmth in his or her voice.

Some vendors haven't changed in 20 years: there's the meat counter, the cheese counter, the same family selling produce by the north entrance, and the machine that makes sugar cinnamon doughnuts. Others are more specialized, but also long established: the Amish pie lady, the salsa lady, the woman who makes the famous jams and relishes, the baklava guy, and the potter in the back corner (I have one of her plates with dragonflies that I gave as a hopeful gift to Mom the Christmas before she died).

In the back parking lot is much, much more produce. Yesterday I brought home early peaches, blueberries, a big bunch of basil, fresh garlic, red potatoes, two cobs of sweet corn, and black kale. I always stop and gaze longingly at the fresh flowers.

Many artisans come and go: photographers, jewelers, sellers of gewgaws and sentimental art. Years ago I spent my winter Saturdays manning a table of my own in an attempt to sell handmade paper, usually making enough money to buy coffee and a warm cinnamon bun. Then there are always buskers, people selling some new fad, eternal youth and health, political ideas or religious propaganda.

One new booth sells homemade gluten-free baked goods. I easily drop $12 there. The bread and focaccia are not bad, maybe a little gritty, and the brownies and cupcakes are alright, but the butter tarts are heavenly.

Yes, essentially unchanged in 25 years, the farmers' market still manages to offer something new and interesting every week. But perhaps more important is that all the nice people go there once in a while so you can count on running into a friend or four, and there are familiar faces, even the ones with no names attached but a ready smile or greeting.

After next Saturday I will live half a block from the farmers' market. I can hardly wait. It won't take much persuasion to climb out of bed on a Saturday morning, pull on some clothes and sandals, and shamble across the street for a dab of community, beauty, fascination, nurture and worth.

No comments:

Post a Comment