The skies were clear, the weather warm, and the farmers were back at their stalls at the Magnolia Community Center. I was so eager to see them again, and I was met with warm welcomes, hugs, exchange of information. Introductions to the new farmers who have joined the market this year were followed by brief and quick gossips with the farmers who have returned. And then my bags started to fill again with their beautiful offerings. How exciting to see a succulent bunch of carrots, taste the warm cherries, savor over the fresh greens, get the fresh chevre, the handmade raviloi con spinaci, and to mingle with the other shoppers, overhearing their recipes and their excitement.
To market - to market we go, for we want to be connected to the producers. They have had the courage to plant the seeds and to nourish the food that they present to us. If you are shy about making such talk with them, think again. I was already salivating for fresh potatoes and found out that one of my favorite farmers has some early ones that she did not bring to the market. Next week she will bring me my potatoes: "How many pounds? One or two?" - no, please bring me more. And then when you talk with the farmers, you find out that they are always trying new crops - and they are eager for you to try them if you ask to be a part of their experiment. They have to look at what is current in the marketplace and plan their crops accordingly, but being farmers connected to their soil, they are always looking at other crops that might give them an edge in their marketplace. Support their efforts by participating in their trials.
After thoroughly cleaning out the refrigerator and stocking it again with the fresh contents of my shopping bags, there was a quite civilized lunch of fresh chevre cheese spread on the crisp, sculpted leaves of a radicchio lettuce that was new to me. The markings on the leaves reminded me of Georgia O'Keeffe's finest paintings.
In the shimmering heat of the late afternoon I toured the individual gardens at the Interbay P-Patch and joined their salmon-bake fundraiser. Ray Schutte was holding forth in his grand manner as grillmaster extraordinaire, the individual dishes brought by the P-Patchers were truly delicious, and we all settled in to a convivial dinner together. No one was rushing home. We lingered as the sun set and the lamps were lit. Finally, we slowly strolled home as the last light in the western sky held fast. It was hard to let go of the day.