Sunday’s farmers market during the summer is always packed. It’s that way in the summer. No one can resist the fresh corn or the plump, red tomatoes. And the peach guy has about twenty samples on which some people gorge for about twenty minutes. They look like overgrown chipmunks, cheeks full of peach slices and the juice dripping off their chins. The long days attract mothers and their strollers and fathers and their sons. Mixed among the seasonal hoards are the regulars who I see week in and week out, even in the lean months of January when broccoli seems to be the only star of the market.
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“Bologna la grassa!” said the woman in the fur coat as she peered out the dirty, train window. Her head, covered by a matching, fur hat, swayed with the rocking of the car. Apparently she knew Bologna. And she knew it by one of the Bologna's many monikers—Bologna la grassa. Bologna the Fat.
It had taken two days to prepare the food for a lens-based show several us had curated back when we were graduate students at JFKU. Curating a show is the only way to learn the art business and there are myriad mistakes to be made in the process. The first mistake of my fledgling career was to put the food in a separate, secluded room away from the artwork. You want people to mingle amongst the art, not somewhere else. Worse than that, I'd forgotten about the Shrimp People.
There is a tree in the town park about which I often write. Tall and singular, it is an easy object of affection. Meanwhile, another tree, a tiny one in a clay pot, has been growing lemons outside our back door. This week it has given forth a basket of perfect Meyer lemons. Have I neglected this selfless little citrus?
Sunday I bought a fish. Sick of Safeway and its hermetic seals, I went to the farmer's market. There you know what the food is and from where it comes. Contrary to the Safeway illusion, meat is not born in plastic trays. It comes from animals that once lived.
Hot-house tomatoes come to market early in spring. This is too early for a tomato. Tomatoes herald the beginning of summer—real summer, not some fabrication designed to hurry along a year before its time. Hot-house tomatoes remind me of Christmas decorations that show up before Thanksgiving. Sadly, too many patrons of the farmer's market succumb to the temptation. "Look!" they say. "Tomatoes!!!!!" And they go buy the mealy, half-green half-real approximations of the real thing.
Hands are the most fascinating part of a farmer's market. This is a recent discovery of mine, thanks to the telephoto lens. I started watching the rummaging hands of market shoppers only a few weeks ago when I zoomed in to reveal a few paws hard at work searching through tomatoes—a show that I'd never noticed before. The hands are like puppet shows. Young, old, deliberate, or frantic, they dart around with anthropomorphic personality. Hands search for the perfect tomato. They grope for the reddest of cherries. Some remind me of the giant claws that grasp for treasure in those old arcade machines at amusement parks. Hovering over the green beans, they plunge down into the center of a huge pile of them. Up come the hands, dropping half their load as they maneuver the lode into plastic bags. Then they repeat the cycle, seemingly insatiable in their appetite for more.
Returning from the farmer's market on Sunday, I felt a moment of great abundance as I laid out the booty from my expedition. A kitchen glows when fresh produce arrives. It is a moment of great anticipation.
The human race is more connected than ever. Go to a bar on a Friday night and everyone is texting everyone else. The antennae are up. You can contact more people on the planet than ever before. That's not all. Soon, aliens from distant stars will be texting hot girls in bars. Single men of Planet Earth won't stand a chance. Already, the girls text one another across town when the guys start to bore them, about five minutes into most conversations. Oddly, the guys don't seem to mind. Maybe that's the problem.
The dailiness of life has this hum to it. Like an old refrigerator on its last leg, it drowns out the nuances of life. Then the fridge finally dies and...quiet. Birds chirp, you can hear the breeze again. Turning off the electricity might be a prescription for sanity.