Saturday, October 01, 2005

in my little town...

...I grew up believing
That life is boring.

I changed my mind.

Though anyone looking at this first October day may get the impression that I have simply joined the ranks of the Madisonians who basically love to do the Madison thing, all organic this and healthy that and actively engaged in the community, etc etc. and that’s it – what else could you possibly add to this basket of symbiotic perfection?

And I have indeed succumbed, to some extent. Pulling on some raggy clothes, last seen yesterday, on me, not bothering to even shower, I set out for the market this morning. I am only six blocks away. I can walk. I feel wholesome (if grungy). The sun hasn’t broken the city horizon yet. I am an early bird.

At the market I throw down several twenties in support of sustainable agriculture. I am with the land and the people who grow things on it. I talk to farmers and cheese makers. The moonglow pear guy uses words like epistemology. Or was it nomenclature? Or both? Not that I undervalue the intellectual inclinations of the men and women who till the land, but believe me, the average farmer in Poland does not muck around much with either epistemology or nomenclature. But hey, this is Madison.

Madison Oct 05 010
eerily, they glow

Madison Oct 05 001
much needed for tomorrow

I look at the kid who is part of the brood at Avalanche. She looks like the kind of waif of a child I would want to raise on a farm were I into raising kids on farms. That family is so together, so all about wool knits and cottons. And they’re doing well. I buy their stuff at Whole Foods all the time. It makes me happy to find and purchase their bags of greens. I feel like I am helping put the little ones through school. (Or – are they home-schooled?)

Madison Oct 05 005

The flower family always throws in extras – they give you yellows if you want more yellows, they coddle you and infuse you with their own flowery joie de vivre.

Madison Oct 05 006

I get a blueberry bar for my coffee which I have yet to consume. This is a morning run, a pre-breakfast thing. Wholesome, remember? The bar is additive free, wheat free, sugar free, gluten free and a bunch of other frees I have by now forgotten. It’s not free-free, but it is Madison-like free.

I pick up a latte and head to the loft.

Okay, so a little glitch here: I have a lot of food. And flowers. And a cup of coffee. And my wrist and thumb have yet to heal from my June bike accident, especially since I ignored the advice of the doc who told me to go do some hand therapy. (Hand therapy sounds sissy-like. I’m no sissy.)

I am struggling. I am thinking that I ought to get a backpack. Wait, I live an urban existence. I have never seen anyone in NY carry groceries in a backpack. Forget it.

On I go. I am about to cross the tracks to get to the loft (third, fourth and fifth windows on the top, from the left) and I see the construction vehicles again. I ask what the fuss is about. They have been grinding away at the space between the loft and the tracks for days. If there is some super highway going up right under my lofty windows, I want to know about it.

Madison Oct 05 014

But no! This is Madison. They are putting in a new, beautiful bike path, linking the lakes with the city – and mainly, creating even more venues for Mr. B and me. Right under my nose! View remains undisturbed. I can take endless photos of the capitol from my loft. And I can go for wholesome rides everywhere.

So all this is what creates bliss, right?

Nope. Bliss lies elsewhere. But these trappings, they sure as hell make life in (downtown) Madison a good thing, they really do.

the shop around the corner

When my daughters were little, I took them regularly to Fraboni’s, the Italian deli and grocer downtown, on the corner of Regent and Park. We lived on the far west side, but we drove in just so we could load up on Fraboni’s gnocchi. No one in Madison had better gnocchi. And of course, once there, we’d get thinly sliced salami, olives, Parmesan-Reggiano, pasta and so on. I probably could buy this stuff elsewhere, but I liked getting it there.

The Fraboni family knew my girls by name. They would say things like: Oh, they’re growing so fast! I’d indulge in an Italian nougat candy at the register. The girls preferred the cookies. We left happy.

the Fraboni's dude

And then I stopped going. I got busy, the daughters got busy and satisfactory gnocchi could be found elsewhere. One makes compromises.

The other day as I was telling someone how good it is to live downtown, I was asked about the grocery store situation. I hesitated on that one. I need a car for food shopping. Nothing within walking distance of the loft. Maybe when Trader Joe’s is up and running on Monroe (looks to be a half hour walk – just like shopping in Poland!), maybe then I can hike over…

And then, this afternoon, as I was making up a grocery list for my week-end of heavy duty cooking, I thought: there isn’t a place in town that will have this one particular item. Except maybe Fraboni’s.

I went there at dusk. I looked around – it had been years (decades?) since I had stopped by. The old discolored map of Italy was gone. The shelves were filled with many types of balsamic vinegars from Modena. The nougat candies weren't at the checkout counter.

But the family was still there. The son was now one of the proprietors. I asked him about the ingredient I was looking for – he called his mother to talk about it, to check whether my rather weird usage of it would work. I looked around at the cheeses, the sausages, at the shelves that weren’t exactly arranged, the ones that always, in their disarray and devotion, had a distinct taste of Italy.

A five minute walk from my loft, that’s it. My grocery store, just down the block.

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