Saturday, July 28, 2007

two markets and an airport

It wasn’t until 3 at night that the last of the weary travelers arrived at the condo. Her suitcase came later. Or, rather, before anyone was up, I drove to our airport to retrieve it.

I mention this because the episode speaks so much to the kind of place I live in. Flights get delayed or canceled. Suitcases don’t necessarily travel with you. The airport is within a hiccup of where I live. And as you approach the terminal, you see not hangars and warehouses and car rental barracks. You see this:


Naturally, by mid morning I am ready for the Saturday markets.

I have two markets just outside my door. I choose the Westside Community market for today (the other, the Hilldale market, gets my business Wednesdays morning). And for old times sake, I also scoot down to the Madison Farmers' Market at Capitol Square.

We’re market nuts, all of us. We go because of the quality foods, sure, and we go for that stubborn adherence to the fresh and honest: what we buy got ripped from the fields just this morning, yes, of course. It better have been.

And then, there’s that link to the soil. A personal connection to it (via the farmer). It makes us feel better about the lives we lead – disassociated as we are from producing much of anything except paper and ideas and most often not even that.

We take the produce out of the framer’s hand and it’s almost as good as getting dirt under our own nails, except you don’t have to scrub your hands and apply lotion to any calluses afterwards.

So it’s curious that, at the Westside Community Market, the one right outsied my door, I should first go not to the farmers’ stands, but to the booth with Potter’s crackers. The young cracker guy was so enthusiastic about his crackers last week (consider: roasted corn and onion, or basil walnut pesto, or rhubarb cinnamon…) that it all rubbed off on me. I positively skipped the whole way home after eating his crackers. It's like getting a massage: the glow lasts for a whole ten, fifteen minutes afterwards! (Only it's cheaper to go with the crackers than with a massage. )


And there are other bakers at this market – a whole little band of them who do scones and muffins better than anyone else in town.

I do not neglect the real stuff either. The stuff that grows and causes nails to get dirty. Tomatoes. Cucumbers. Flowers. I pick carefully. It all must look good, smell good and the sellers must appear like they’ll recognize me six months hence.



The downtown market, on the other hand, is familiar ground. I feel like it’s a child that has become famous and there’s nothing left to do but check in and say hi every now and then. Maybe ask for an autograph. These guys are doing well, here, on the Square!

No matter. A quarter of a century of market going in Madison has pushed me there, downtown, and I am not likely to turn my back on it all simply because I have a market now just outside my door. There are many hours in a Saturday morning. And one can never have too many market experiences. Hands stay clean. Refrigerator is full, flower vases are stocked for the week.