It was raining peacefully on Sunday morning. The streets were washed clean by a storm that had hit the day before. The road shimmered in the weak light, twinkling with each drop from the sky. On a tempestuous Friday before the storm, I'd been hit between the eyes by a hurtful comment from a friend. It left me reeling. Sunday's gray drizzle seemed appropriate.
Despite the rain and the winter season I went early to the farmer's market. I was thinking of a baguette. And maybe a wedge of cheese. I wanted to talk to the chili man. And ask the asparagus guy when spring would arrive. I needed the farmers just then. So, I bundled up and went to the market.
This time of year it's easy to park at the farmer's market. The fair-weather marketers are long gone, waiting now for their tomatoes and sweet corn and warm summer breezes. Rain doesn't help bring in the crowd but it does enhance a quiet market day for a man with a bruised soul.
Alone with my baskets I pulled up my collar. I was still grumbling to myself about Friday. But, some Swiss chard caught my eye. Pulling out two dollars for a nice bunch of it, I overheard a conversation at the next stand.
"How is the most lovely jewel of the universe today?" a man with a European accent asked a smiling woman. The woman had been alone at her booth. Before the man with the accent arrived she hadn't been smiling. I looked at the young woman who had just sold me the chard and we both laughed. One comment brought three smiles—the best market deal of the day. With a spark of renewal I went to see the chili man.
"I want you to know that I sent some of your chili sauce to my friend in Chicago. He said it was the best he'd ever tasted," I said to him.
"Well, of course!" the chili man replied. He is nothing if not self-assured of his chili-sauce prowess. "I just made some new mash. Try this."
Down the way, the asparagus man had nothing but potatoes. "The asparagus will be here in about four weeks," he pronounced. The first day of spring had now been declared. "Are you getting any good pictures today?" The egg couple saw me coming from their mountain of egg cartons. They had a dozen, extra-large, brown, organic eggs waiting for me. Just the kind I like.
"I had to get my eggs at Safeway last week," I said. They both groaned. "They were watery. Stale," I added.
"We have you spoiled," the man of the couple said, looking up from his stack of a billion eggs. "See you next week."
The young woman who usually sells me my baguette wasn't there. I got one anyway from a girl I'd never met. Then I got a small salami from the French charcuterie guy and asked for his advice on sausages. At that point I realized that my basket was overflowing and I needed to stop.
On the way out there was another man with an overflowing basket. Like me, he'd bought his baguette. After making a photo of him I realized that we are all the same. Every one of us can be made just a little happier with a baguette in our basket and a trip to farmer's market.