For one brief moment in time, the annual arrival of the farmers' markets is one of the most welcome reoccurrences of the year. For just a brief window of time, people who have worked hard all year bring their hard-won produce to market and we are the beneficiaries. Peaches, pears, raspberries, blackberries, many varieties of apples, cantaloupe, watermelons, peppers, corn sweet enough to eat right off the cob without boiling, jams, jellies, artisan bread, Argentine meat pastries, salsas, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, eggplant, zucchini, and I am sure I have left out a few items. If the photo of brilliant orange pumpkins above doesn't tell you something about the coming and going of the seasons, you may as well throw in the towel. Just for a time, Indian Summer teases us with the harvest, with luminous sunshine that seems over-bright and over-promising as we forget for a moment that the summer is over, the fall is here, and before we are ready for it, frost and yellow leaves and bare branches and snow and ice and cold. But for a moment, we'll buy all of the produce we can possibly eat and use and give away. Never did a group of people deserve whatever people pay them as much as these people who remain loyal to their agricultural vocations. And never were we so very fortunate as to receive the gifts of their hard work.
I bought a half dozen ears of corn from this young farmer and told him I had given up farming at the age of 16. How did you do that, he asked. I went to college and studied agriculture, I told him. He replied, I've been trying to figure out how to quit farming myself. I thought, maybe he has the best of everything. Besides, his corn was about the best I have ever found as I discovered when I got home and chucked an ear into a pot of boiling water with a jot of white vinegar and a jigger of sugar, as advised by Mel's Kitchen Cafe (blog linked at right).
I bought a cantaloupe from a young girl, maybe 10 or so, who was cheerfully passing out samples on toothpicks. That's the last one, she said. Great, I said, I'll take it. Then I asked her if she got paid for working and selling melons. Oh yes, she said, I get paid by getting to go to Disney Land. Whereupon her mother came by and told me that her children did all of the work planting and raising their garden produce, and their annual reward and wages consisted of another trip to Disney Land.