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Friday, September 10, 2010

Small Town, Big Happenings

The number of times mail has appeared in the business-related post office box I’ve rented for the last few months could be counted on two hands, not including pinkies or thumbs. So let me tell you what a charge it is when I stop by and the clerk remembers that my 60-year-old-box opens only one out of the, say, fifteen times I spin the combination. He hands me my mail (mostly junk; today a delivery confirmation) before I can even ask.

I was a teenager once, so I understand why my daughter and her friends moan about our tiny town while muttering under their breaths how they can’t wait to leave. I on the other hand, love the place. Don’t get me wrong. It is small (her high school class has less than 90 kids) which presents limitations, and though the winding roads and ocean vistas are post-card beautiful, the area has issues and misery like any other.

But there is something about the clerk who knows me even though there’s rarely mail in my box—and a town common that hosts a weekly farmer’s market that welcomes not only the three farmers who attend, but also a jewelry maker, a cookie baker, a sirloin vendor and a Yoyo seller—to make you feel part of something pure, a throwback, if you will, to an less sophisticated time.



The 2:30 market kick-off is announced via a ringing cow bell, and other than the snaking string of humanity that waits for fresh-picked corn, the longest lines form in front of an ice cream truck and a hot dog stand. From the number of barefoot kids running across the grass, it’s clear that the Thursday afternoon market offers major entertainment for the toddler set and an engaging distraction for young moms who spread blankets on the grass and nurse their infants while listening to a middle-aged guitar player croon Jimmy Buffet, the Bee Gees and Neil Young. Older kids romp in the safe area between the Unitarian Church and Meeting House Pond, skipping back once in a while to beg mom for a pony ride or a painted tattoo.


In the corner, bushel baskets tumble with plump green beans and the first tart apples of the season. Piles of smooth yellow squash and shiny zucchini sit next to stacks of fresh corn, where silk hangs like floss from unmarked ears. All around, vendors and customers chat with each other. The crowd sifts and changes as people walk by gripping cloth bags heavy with tomatoes, topped with fat bouquets of bobbing sunflowers. Visitors peruse the booths until the weight of their purchases sounds the supper bell. By 6:00, it’s all over.


The last of the stragglers return home for supper, stakes holding up the white peaked tents are yanked from the ground, and this new vendor, hosting a table for a one time market test, takes a deep cleansing breath, aware that over the course of the afternoon, a kind of soft wind blew through, pushing out all that is stale and musty and leaving the air untainted and fresh.


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14 comments:

glnroz said...

this looks like total fun,,, last year we went to Lexington and there was a market on the courthouse square,, i could have spent a whole day there,, i should posts some pics of that too.. thnx

jbchicoine said...

That is so neat, to have your own table and everything...was it as nerve-racking as I imagine? or is it just me who frets over 'putting my stuff out there'?

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Congratulations to you for putting your work out there. You take gorgeous photos, and what a lovely place to showcase them. One thing I've noticed at markets or small fairs is that often people will not buy bigger price items but love to buy cards. Have you put your photos on card stock for sale? Or perhaps that's what you've got in the file boxes!

Mary said...

Great photos. The post made me a little homesick.

Robin said...

I kept looking at your pictures and reading your text about the event and thinking, "This looks so familiar. Why does this look so familiar?" And then I had a revelation. She lives in Stars Hollow!!!!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like you live in one of those quaint, Southern towns, much like the one featured in the movie Doc Hollywood.

Liza said...

Robin, I laughed out loud on that one! Perhaps I do live in SH, only we don't have a Luke or his diner...rats! We do however, have a Halloween costume parade, a Turkey Trot, a Jingle Bell Walk, and this weekend, a celebration for the town. Hmmm. Is that why I like Gilmore Girls? No, it's the fast and witty dialogue dabbled with pop culture references that draws me in...I think!

Lola Sharp said...

OMG! I was thinking Stars Hollow too! (I love Gilmore Girls! And I secretly want to live in SH.)

Sounds charming, lovely.

I always love the picture you post here. :)

Have a wonderful weekend,
Lola

Helen Ginger said...

I want to live there!

I don't think we appreciate a place like this until we're grown, settled, and raising our own kids.

Jan Morrison said...

Just in time - I'm discouraged with our new gigantic market and feel sad about going to the other city depleted one. I'm going to take Step-dot and Felix and go down the shore to a tiny one we love. So much fun, eh?

arlee bird said...

There is a charm to a small town that the younger generation doesn't get until it's gone. When my family moved to Maryville, Tennessee back in the mid-60s I was in high school. To me the town itself was so dull. Hardly any place stayed open late and there wasn't much in the way of major chain stores or restaurants. When I got in college we mostly went to Knoxville to do anything.

After I moved away, things started sprouting up all over. Now you can find just about anything there. The sad part is that a lot of the good local restaurants and small stores are gone now, replaced by the national chains. It's still a small town, but with a big city feel to it.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Piedmont Writer said...

I left a place just like that to move down here. And believe me, as soon as I get the money together, I'm going back. There is nothing like a good old-fashioned New England town square.

Robyn Campbell said...

Congrats Liza on putting your work out there for all to see. You have to be pleased with yourself. I know I would be.

Your town sounds wonderful. I live in a small NC town, so I understand about the postal clerk recognizing you. And I understand about the kids wanting to get far away from the place too, because ours have said the same thing. *sigh* If they only realized. :)

Untainted, fresh air. Ahhhhhhhhhhh

Nicole Zoltack said...

Looks like fun!