Saturday, Hannah and I joined my parent’s at the Farmer’s Market. It was a crisp, Fall morning in Southern California. We followed my mom as she expertly made her way through the crowd, making a beeline for the two stalls for which she was looking. She first headed to the farmer’s stall where she knew she could buy raw peanuts that she wanted to boil for my dad, peanuts being one of his favorite snacks. “Here, come help!” she barked at me, accustomed to bossing me around, “Choose the peanuts with the whitest shells, the shells without any cracks. These are super fresh. Dad loves these. You will too.”
Mom is all confidence. She’s already found the best stalls, knows the best restaurants, orders the best dishes. I’m in good hands with her. According to her.
As we walk, Hannah and I look longingly at the ripe tomatoes, the baskets of strawberries, the stalls selling orchids and succulents. We sample sweet yellow peaches and sharp cheddar cheese. We buy a flat of strawberries, firm and summer-sweet. I get inspired to make gazpacho, remembering a text my friend Kerri sent me yesterday that she was making gazpacho. Armed with my camera, I take a few shots of my parents, Mom weaving through the crowd, Dad loaded down with bags of produce.
“I love being at the Farmer’s Market,” Hannah gushed to me. “It’s such a great morning, the weather is perfect, a little cool, a little sunny. I’m so enjoying this morning. I know it’s a little far from our house, but can we come back here some time?” Hannah pleaded.
I, too, love going to farmer’s markets. I think back to the farmer’s market Daniel and I used to go to in Union Square in New York City, where I would buy bouquets of wildflowers for my little brownstone studio. I remember the market in Palo Alto that we frequented when we first got married, parading our golden retriever puppy, Louis. We couldn’t take two steps without someone stopping us to ask to pet that dog. There is nothing more crowd-stopping than a cute puppy. He was such a babe magnet, that Louis. I remember going to the same farmer’s market with Dragon when he was a baby, pushing his stroller while carrying my produce, proudly showing the world to my firstborn, proudly showing my firstborn to the world. I think of the farmer’s markets I’ve visited in Portland, in Mountain View, in Ojai, in Vail. There is something clean and fresh and wholesome about Farmer’s Markets, something primal and happy about being surrounded by all those homemade lavender soaps, grass-fed beef, and expensive organic produce.
I felt a moment of sadness as we got into our car, ready to drive home. I realized that it had been years since I had brought Hannah to the farmer’s market. I had stopped allowing myself to enjoy things like the farmer’s market, simple things that brought me joy. I had stopped sharing those joys with my family, with Hannah. I, too, missed the farmer’s market. I, too, wanted to come back. As we pulled away, I made a promise to return soon to leisurely stroll the aisles, to buy a loaf of freshly baked bread, to sample the perfectly ripe nectarines, to help my parents pick the sweetest ears of corn.