Its summertime. The light has started to reflect that in the days and into the nights. My time is spent on weekends at the local farmer's markets around the area.
If you told me years ago that I would be a fishmonger selling fish at local farmer's markets, I would not undestand what you were talking about. The farmer's markets were a foreign land to me. I never noticed or had any curiosity about the vendors whose greens I purchased during my 72 hour leave from the corporate world. Ah, but now I am behind that table and in the land of famer's market vendors.
Its a world of eccentric folk, usually people who would not stand the test of time in corporate america. These people are generous of spirit and of truth, nope not a chance in the office mileu. I start on fridays setting up by Petuala the gigantic swan that is posted outside the Chamber of Commerce office. This is a small market and one in which the vendors are so often found outside their stalls that at times customers start calling out their names. There is lots of ruckus laughter and at times downright rebellion.
Being the rookie of the bunch, I often feel uncomfortable with the setup of my stand and the way I display my sustainable fishing rights information. Its never as snazzy as the cookie man who has crates setup high ('it catches the customers attention'), nor as neat as the gluten free lady's stand. But they let me stay. Each week I try to get it a bit more stylish and at times I do succeed.
On Fridays, next to Petula the swan I find myself in trance like thought. How I came to be a farmers market lady. "the fish lady" is what people call me and for the most part I don't mind. Being older and more assured that it won't blight my image, its more of an endearment and quite frankly makes me feel like I am part of a community.
The spirit is bright here, and for this time in my life it gives me shelter from the stormy days that have quite recently fallen upon me. Fridays, after Petula I drive down to the old mental asylum and setup outside the posh winery and coffee roaster that has taken place of the old guard. Often I get to be near the tall green limbered Maple Tree. I get to listen to ridiculous conversations between two farmer's one young and one middle aged who go on and on about the tomatoes or how they got up and found there hoop houses flooded. They can have a full blown conversation which is filled with euphemisms most commonly found in the northern midwest. The sun usually shines while I am here, its a beautiful campus that at one time was a State Mental hospital. Often, I think that the ghosts of the asylum are blowing through the trees (always a strong wind). They are not bemoaning or haunting the land but welcoming its rebirth in newness and nuture.
Here at this market, I find people greeting me with smiles and hugs. There are people from all walks coming upon me singing the praises of the fish and asking me how I would fix the fish. There are the regulars who tell me of their troubles. One in paticular is going through heartbreak another's daughter is out living on the streets as a vagrant and is quite happily doing so, even if it breaks her mother's heart. I find myself investing time and love to these people and selling them fish. When I break down my stand and load the coolers in the van, on the way home I think often that its not just about selling the fish but of being of service to these people.
When I worked in Corporate america, I did find people with whom I shared a connection with and found solace in quite a few of those relationships. Yet, here now in my middle years selling fish has given me a purpose in which I never had experienced when I was pulling in the monies and traveling off to exotic lands. Here, I find connection with Sally the dairy farmer who is often found in hippie bangles and indian cotton blouses selling her dairy. She has a calm and steady presence, a naivete that comes from living on the land. There is the silly bee man whose honey is adored by the locals. The bee man who listens to NPR and chats with me about its daily shows. There is the family that lives like they are right out of 'Little House On The Praire', homesteading and dressing like Laura Ingels Wilder. There are so many parts of the tapestry of life found behind these tables. Never during my earlier years could I have imagined such a world, or that I would be part of it!
Famer's Markets are in know, the hip place to socialize. Ladies dress up in there Sundance catalog attire or Land's End Gear and wave vigorously to "Bebe, or Janice". The men are often chickened legged and tan wearing shorts that are way to long for them, with small bellies that tell the story of retirement. All of them seem to wear baseball caps. They talk amongst themselves, and treat us like we are some caged exotic animals they get a rare chance to mingle with during their "Social Market" time. I often speak to them of books, and they to me of travels. And I appreciate them all.
Two days before the Market, you can find me fretting about pricing and labeling and bansawing. You will find me pushing the limit as to how much time I have before setting off. When it looks like a rain will fall I have a hard time motivating myself.
Petula the Swan is being refurbished this year, she has a yellow caution crime scene fastened aroud her perimeter. I have a deep fondness for this large swan sitting right in the middle of a parking lot. At night when I lay in bed there are times I pray that I won't forget this time. The time in my life where I got to be part of the community of real people. Its been so rare in my life that its sweetness is like a balm for me, a healing I would never have imagined.
Today, its sunny and its Tuesday. The light is cool and steely, the eclipse of the full moon is upon us. There is fish to price and deliver, there are people who are depending upon me to show up. So, today I shall start being the 'fish lady' for the market. When you pass by say hello and who knows what we shall speak of in that day. Who knows but do say Hello.