Farmer's Market Fresh



I was hoping to find some pumpkins at a farmer’s market last weekend. Signs were posted all over my neighborhood and I’d gotten an email inviting me to the inaugural weekend of our community’s farmer’s market. 

I envisioned baskets of tomatoes, fresh lettuce and a luscious selection of homegrown fruits and vegetables. I was even hoping to pick out a pumpkin for my front porch. 

Saturday morning (after making chocolate chip pancakes of course), my niece Devon and I walked over to check it out. We spotted the crowd from down the street, but as we got closer we noticed there wasn’t much on display. 

A bag with two tiny eggplants sat on a table. Another bag had a few scraggly herbs in it. 

The man behind the table handed me a postcard with a website printed on it. He said the market had attracted far more people than they’d anticipated and they’d sold out. He told me to send an email and they’d ship me my order. 

But I was hoping to browse for fruits and vegetables in person. I wanted to buy a little sack of tomatoes and carry them home for dinner that night. But all I walked away with was a postcard.

Farmer's market in Paris
Years ago whenever my grandmother and aunt visited our family in Florida, they didn’t want to go to theme parks or head to the beach. They wanted to see our grocery stores. Publix. Albertson’s. Winn Dixie. 

They’d spend hours in the produce section comparing what we had here to what they had at home. 

In Pittsburgh, they’d make day trips to a farm, where they would come home with bags of fresh corn on the cob and baskets of strawberries. They’d talk about how they couldn’t wait for corn season or berry season, as if it were a holiday they looked forward to all year.

Fruit stand on Rue Mouffetard in Paris
Every time I see a farmer’s market or a fruit stand by the side of the road, I think of buying fresh corn and cucumbers and tomatoes to make what I ate at my grandmother’s house. 

Like her specialty salad of cucumbers sliced paper thin with skinny ribbons of onions, sprinkled with salt and pepper, vinegar and oil. 

Steaming corn on the cob with rivulets of butter sliding down the kernels. 

And most of all, I dream of a delicious juicy, tasty tomato that my grandmother sliced thick to top off her chipped ham sandwiches. 

The kind of tasty tomatoes that don’t seem to be in grocery stores anymore. 


But I didn’t find any of that at the farmer’s market. 

I can still make a cucumber salad and have fresh corn on the cob and tomatoes from the grocery store. It might not be farmer's-market-delicious, but it could still be pretty good. 

Maybe my hopes are too high. 

And not just about fruits and vegetables. 

Pie-in-the-sky dreams of finding the ultimate job or the incomparable friend or the ideal date. Which never turn out quite as I think they will. 

What I deem unsatisfactory, second-rate or inferior is just different. 

An ordinary job becomes fulfilling, a flawed person proves after all to be a faithful friend, and an imperfect candidate isn't a soul mate but can be a kind kindred spirit. 

Because adjusting expectations can produce a bumper crop. Of fresh outlooks, unwilted opportunities and ripened relationships.


So instead of browsing for vegetables, we walk across the street to the neighborhood pond. 

Where Devon spots some ducks and asks if she can take some pictures. With the big camera? And can she hang the strap with roses on it around her neck? 

I let her try it out. I sit on a bench while she runs around, camera in hand, shooting photos of birds, ducks and trees. About 183 of them. 

That we’ll download when we get home. She’s excited to see her work as a big girl photographer. 

As we walk home, I tell her the farmer’s market will be back next week. She says maybe they’ll bring some stuff we can look at. 

I hope so. 

Because I’m always looking for a few ears of corn, some ripe tomatoes or the perfect pumpkin. 

Right in my own neighborhood.




Comments

  1. How sweet! Devon sure looks like a big girl photographer!

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  2. I was surprised how good the photos were -- I think she already has a new talent!

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  3. Great articles - so many good memories - I, too, love fresh markets....and what memories you stirred up - yum! We've tried to have ham 'chipped'.....nothing's the same as Isley's, tho! Great pictures.....you've mastered that new camera for sure!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! It seems that delis outside of Pittsburgh find chipped ham a mystery to master!

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