Why I Go To The Farmer’s Market

By | July 23, 2013

(Originally published as a column in the Saturday edition of the Kamloops Daily News on July 20, 2013)

20130618_190401It is cloudy today and we’re having a late start. Lazy Saturday mornings happen to everyone. They’d better. Another edition Saturday pancakes and a talk about why judgment makes you doubt yourself, then we leave for the farmer’s market. Sometimes it is all of us, this time just me and my youngest.

We stop at the bank then run to the market, literally. It’s silly fun and the giggles my youngest leaves behind won’t last for long. Time is merciless that way, a good reason to make it happen often, laughing with your children that is…

Music greets us. It makes our feet dance and our faces smile. The air smells sweet and fresh. A good day indeed.

The wood spirits are our first stop. You must’ve seen them, the wooden faces and the castles Kelly carves out of cottonwood bark… He makes imagination fly high, almost a lost art in today’s rushed world where computer games abound and patience is underestimated. “You almost see the face in a piece of wood,” he tells us. I’ve heard people say that before. Art is fascinating.

Every face has a different expression and tells a different story. My youngest has one of these wood masks hanging next to his bed. He wants to learn to make them too. He often carves at home and this kind of exposure inspires him, like it should.

We talk about where to find cottonwood bark, how to age a sculpture, how to carve castles and why some of the ones Kelly sells have jasper eyes. How long does it take to carve that? My little guy is fascinated by the faces, by their long wooden beards, and by how tree bark becomes alive once more…

Market is almost closing… We go and buy eggs, strawberry and rhubarb pie. We buy a whole box of fragrant strawberries and talk about South America with the lady who sells them. We buy greens, a farm-raised chicken and honey. Herbs too.

Guilt-free coffee to from Anita, cookies for the boys and quick browsing of the potted plants; we look at colors and leaf shapes; we talk about ferns and how they’ve been around since dinosaur time. What’s the Earth going to look like in fifty years or so? How about five hundred?

Then it’s back to the wooden spirits. For just a tiny bit, my youngest says. I thought he might ask… It’s the end of the day and the magic wooden faces are carefully put away until next week wrapped in soft towels.

Next door to the wooden spirits is Meagan from Heffley Creek, she’s a soap and natural cosmetics maker. Another kind of beautiful magic that we often overlook in favor of commercially-made long-lingering fragrances. I delight in meeting a like-minded person and the old and oh so played “we speak the same language” is as real as it is needed. And we speak it, with the promise of future conversations.

We meet friends, neighbors and people we know from around town. We create routines that make our Saturday morning sunnier no matter how cloudy the sky. We pick knowledge, freshness and develop gratefulness for the place we’re in. Smiles, stories and wonders abound.

When I needed advice on how to deal with the wasp nest in the backyard fort, someone pointed to the bee guy; he knows, I was told without an ounce of doubt. He did. A conversation about the sad fate of bees ensued. People need to know more, we both agreed. Perhaps we can visit the beehives in Barnhartvale? Sure thing; it makes sense that one of my favorite road cycling routes is also a bee paradise.

I could say go to the market to get fresh food and support local farmers. That’s a big part of it. But there is something else you can get there. You get stories and smiles on any given market day. Everyone needs that, they add some more color and texture to your food. Appreciation in every bite.

The city comes alive here and so do seasons. We learn that in early spring chickens make small eggs, just as they shake the winter chills off. There’s baby lettuce, tender green onion and garlic, small bouquets of fragrant herbs and seedlings in the spring.

Berries and greens abound as summer bursts through the sky mid-June or so. Fall is when we first visited the market here in Kamloops for the first time. It’s a time of abundance and flavours. Every season is. Don’t miss it. I won’t either.

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