It's the second time this summer that I actually get to a farmer's market, but only the first time I go to this particular one. Five of us, three students and two faculty members, crowded into a new colleague's car and by 9 a.m. we were at the already-crowded farmer's market.
For me, being at a farmer's market is like being a kid at the fair. I'm a city girl who grew up with supermarkets where the food had been shipped from far away, most of which couldn't even be grown in Puerto Rico. Thus, I can't get enough of all the fresh produce, meats, cakes, breads, rolls, pies, cut flowers, plants, you name it!
It's like going to a plaza del mercado in Puerto Rico, which, now that I think about it, are basically permanent farmer's markets. My husband and I used to go occasionally to the one in Guaynabo when we lived there to get fresh Puerto Rico-grown produce.
Today, I stocked up on fresh blueberries, which my husband likes to have with his cereal; a gorgeous Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato, which I bought mostly because of the name and because of its deep red and hunter green color; and a bag-full of purple-black sweet bell peppers. Next week, I'll get more produce but today we were in a bit of a hurry because one of the students was due at work only an hour after we arrived. Next Saturday I plan to purposefully dilly dally, as my husband would say.
I'm discovering that living in a tiny town and working at a small college means that you're always bumping into people you know and congregating in groups to chat. That happened yesterday in the center of my tiny town, as a group of us gathered by chance and stayed gathered long enough to be greeted by the college president, who walked by with two of her aides. And it happened again today at the farmer's market, when another group of us congregated and chatted before us five had to rush out to deliver the student to her work.
"Did you all come in a van?" one of the farmers asked, pointing to the two other students who were walking ahead of us. "Those two in front of you are young enough to be students," she said.
"Are you suggesting that we don't look like students?" I asked, jesting with her, and pointing at my new colleague and myself.
"Graduate students!" she said, smiling back. Of course, I'm 20 years older than my new colleague, but who's counting?
After our excursion, my new colleague and I decided to (not very environmentally good) burn some gas and go to the only Starbucks in town for hot beverages and get-to-know-each-other conversation. After I dropped her back at her place, I came to the new little apartment in the woods to work with my bounty.
In a short span of time, I made some gorgeous-looking and tasty sofrito with all organic ingredients (including an onion and garlic and basil that another colleague gave us in a bagfull of free home-grown produce). I also checked on the Ohio-grown whole fryer chicken, which I have marinating in Ohio-produced buttermilk in my refrigerator, and I prepared the filling and the crust for a cobbler I'm about to make with the fresh peaches I bought at a nearby orchard a few days ago. This afternoon, my new colleague and the student who worked are coming over for some homemade fried chicken and peach cobbler.
I also did a load of sheets and hung them out to dry in the sun in the new clothesline my husband put up for me. Hanging up the sheets gave me a great feeling, not only because I'm doing my part environmentally speaking (especially to balance the drive to Starbucks!), but also because I recall hanging clothes on a clothesline with my mom long ago, and I have very nice childhood memories of doing that.
This afternoon, when my guests arrive, we'll be eating outside, on the swing and the chairs my husband and I set out in front of our new little apartment in the woods, and which have become sort of a spot of congregation. The swing and the chairs around it tend to promote conversations late into the evening as their very presence and use clamors loudly that this is undoubtedly summertime.