Winter is long. This is not a subjective statement. If you have lived in any cold weather climate, you understand what I mean. Winter, with its promise of hot cocoa and warm cuddles on the couch, remains a romantic prospect through the end of December. By early January, one dreams of spring breezes and flowers. Months of spring dreams blind me to its actual arrival; it is always seems to be one week into the season before I notice. The first rite of spring for me is a trip to the farmer’s market. This is long before throngs of crowds arrive and baskets are weighted down with crowd-pleasing tomatoes. The spring market is intimate. Here in the Cleveland, the outdoor stands are just getting under way. Each week this month, new stands will continue to populate the boulevard that is blocked off and transformed into the market every Saturday. This early in the season farmers and clients are renewing last year’s relationships or just beginning to forge new ones.
Last year, when Belle was but a babe, the market experience was very much about my husband and I. While we went to shop, as we had before Belle arrived, these trips held additional meaning. We were full of the good intentions for a certain lifestyle future for our family.
Last week was our first market experience as a family—with three people intent on viewing, touching and smelling the bounty (and ingenuity) of North-East Ohio. The early spring offerings had a lovely native and/ or foraging aspect to them. There were ramps and maple syrup. (I love being from the maple syrup producing portion of the world.) And, Belle considered all the local bounty. She saddled up to all of the tables. (even though when standing she is barely as tall as a card table.) She smelled the ramps (acceptable) and pulled at the arugula flower (hunh). She attempted to touch the bent wood furniture, despite strong parental suggestions as to contrary. She gazed at the glowing jars of pickles and preserves.
Mostly, on that day, we just were. We experienced the space and life. We met up with our friend A—, Belle’s new favorite person, and took a few pictures. We tasted snacks and spoke to farmers and sellers. There are so many important things about farmers markets---local food, local jobs, local farmers, heirloom vegetables, local artisans. I read about those things often. But, market time is not just about food. There has always been a social aspect to markets. In a place where city dwellers become insular and disconnected with their fellow man, the market is about community. It is also about a moment in time, every Saturday morning, work disappears, and family and friends come to the fore.