I love open air markets. The fresh food, artisan products, and personable vendors seem to be a universal part of the market experience. When I studied abroad in Cambridge, England a few years back I fell madly in love with their daily market. The fresh bread and used book stalls were frequent stops. And I took home a few freshwater pearl necklaces from a local jewelry maker as well. I’ve been pining for that Cambridge market ever since.
That longing is more attached to the sense of community that is lacking in grocery stores. Happily, my roommate, Marissa, discovered that there is a Farmer’s Market nearby to our new apartment. So this past Saturday we brought our canvas bags and set out on a market adventure.
In order to get to our market we have to go up a street called Maltman, which has some lovely houses but is more infamous in our household for having one of the steepest hills in our neighborhood.
The view at the top of the hill always brings a smile to my face though. The blue skies and fluffy white clouds lingering over the hills full of colorful mini-mansions are a postcard come to life. Beautiful views and shady vistas make the heat and the hike seem like a fair trade.
Down Maltman we go and it dumps us out a half-block away from the local farmer’s market. As we entered the market that’s laid out in an arrowhead shape, we saw a sign saying “please, no photos.” Part of me was rather charmed by that notion. As much as I wanted to snap a photo of some of the bounteous fruits and veggies, it was refreshing to not have people posing with kale and tomatoes for Instagram.
I bought a stick of clover honey for $0.25 and weaved in and out of the stalls full of fresh basil, plump squash, and the first golden ears of corn of the season.
One vendor was offering a small buffet of samples: glistening chunks of mango, peach, and watermelon. Marissa bought a squat little peach–its colors like a blush creeping into pale cheeks–and a green fruit I had never seen before. Seeing me stare at the odd fruit, the vendor cut me a slice of another from the bunch and told me it was a green plum.
I’m not normally a huge fruit eater. Big fan of apples and after that it needs to be in juice form for me to get into it. But not wanting to be rude, I bit into a green plum, its juices already coating my fingers. The green plum was supple and velvety on my tongue with a soft, almost floral taste. Its sweetness was nearly overwhelming in the heat of the day but I lingered over the slice of plum. Next week, plums, you will be mine.
We also stopped at a plant vendor, seduced by this variety of succulents. Hank, the kindly vendor with a mohawk, talked us through the various kinds of plants he had on display and the levels of care required. Luckily for us, almost everything he had required next to no attention. There was a hearty aloe vera plant for $10 that we were both tempted by but were worried about carting it home up Maltman. Hank even had a range of plants he called “the black thumb” line because they only needed to be watered a few times a month and were nearly impossible to kill. I could have hugged him.
I did walk away from Hank’s stall with a little $5 air plant, which I had never seen in person before. This air plant only needs to have his roots wet about once a week or so and requires no other care or even soil. Haven’t named this wee creature yet but he has currently taken residence on our living room bookcase, in a decorative Victorian shaving glass. Knock on wood, but let’s hope I can keep this little fella alive.
Further down there was a stall full of vintage jewelry and a stand selling vegan friendly treats. A young man with a well-groomed beard stood on the curb playing a violin for tips. His music drifted just above the hum of voices from the other shoppers and followed me through the stalls.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a small book and record stand where Chuck Klosterman books got chummy with Hemingway and Salinger novels. Used books are treasures disguised as paupers. And I love them for it. I lingered in this stall more than the others, fingers trailing down cracked spines and over bent corners.
I got three used darlings for $12. One, I had been wanting to read but was hemming and hawing over purchasing. Two, were complete surprises.
Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald. Has anyone else noticed that Zelda has been a bit trendy in the book world of late? She’s an undeniably fascinating person–the troubled Southern belle who played muse and wife to F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’ve been wanting to read Z by Therese Anne Fowler, but reading the real woman’s thoughts should prove interesting.
David Sedaris’ Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. I adore David Sedaris. Gobbling up his writing is particularly satisfying hobby of mine. Not sure why I was being noncommittal to purchasing this book before, but for $6 I could handle adding to my Sedaris collection.
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. Is anyone else fascinated by memoirs from women involved in the sex trade? I can’t claim to read a ton of these kinds of books but I was so intrigued by the title and back jacket that I couldn’t pass this book up.
Then when I got home, I cracked this book open and noticed it was an autographed copy. The dedication reads: “To Ben-Some girls kiss and tell.” Who gives away a book you cared enough about to get autographed? Maybe that doesn’t mean good things for the reading quality but this quirky addition just makes this book more consumable for me.
If our first trip was any indication, we will be making the farmer’s market a regular Saturday stop. It feels so amazing to reconnect with that spirit and vitality I connected with in Cambridge, and it makes my new place feel more like home.
Hope you enjoyed the peek into my Saturday morning!
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