Friday, September 16, 2016

On the Thursday Before Wheatland Music Festival, The Farmers Market in Bath Delighted with Music and Fresh Foods from the Farm.

The session has met Thursday, late afternoon to early evening, all through the warm months. A man with a long, white beard took roll informally, finding out that many of this circle have headed up north already, catching a week's camping before Wheatland in Remus opens its doors to folks. The men and women talk about simple topics, like being stung by a bee and needing an emergency visit. One reports that the low, squat blue apartments by Park Lake had one unit raided by law enforcement, meth making shut down. Raid went down just last week. Food is passed around, a selection of cherry tomatoes, a plate of cookies. When the chat runs thin, the next musician gets to lead a song, the lead going in a circle. The rest trail in the same key and tempo. The music sounds composed but the song arises spontaneously. The session might be as old as the farmer's market, now celebrating its sixth season. The grass under the white tent has worn thin and yellow from regular use.

A young woman serves as the market master, setting out signs on the roadway to help visitors find the market, raising tents for the check-in desk and craft counter, allocating tokens to users of double-up food bucks. She has plans to volunteer soon down in Appalachia, working with a team to keep coal companies from blowing up mountains for the carbon beneath them. A farmer of poultry will soon have pheasant for sale. Right now, he has Cornish Game Hens and stew chickens, hens that laid a lifetime of eggs. A woman who teaches for a religious school in Ithaca sells produce she brought from the farms of her students, honey in large jars and hunks of honeycomb, apples off the tree this morning and pints of what remains of this year's bumper crop of blueberries. Many blueberry farms have let go their picking crews and let "you pick" customers work over the bushes. Not all varieties of apples are for sale, she explains, mostly Zestars and Honeycrisps. Wooden crates of apples await tomorrow's first run of the press up in Ithaca. A cooler full of frozen gallons of cider has to sell today; last year's cider must make room for this year's juice. She'll stop visiting markets next week when her classroom calls. A farm in St. John has a table of garlic items, including a pill bottle of cloves to be taken for the high blood pressure. She assured me that it worked. Many customers kept coming back. I bought a slice of gluten free apple pie baked by a woman living on Park Lake, blending Pink Lady and Gala Apples. A woman has almost sold out of egg rolls and spring rolls, and my purchase drew down her stock even more. Out of the nine vendors under tents, she packed up first. A lady has sold off her last crate of the season's sweet corn, and I had no place to roast the last dozen I passed upon. I mean, I rarely cook in the kitchen when I stay at an Air B&B situation. So goodbye sweet corn because I was afraid to ask for kitchen privileges.

My mother baked Kolache at Christmas time, little twists of pastry stuffed with apricot or prune jam. At the tent of a man selling Kolache and Polish Sausage in a stunning array of flavor, a woman saw me balancing pie, egg rolls and a few apples in my hand and she called me over. "Put those in this bag". "I'm good", I said. She held the bag open and said, "Do you really know"? She kept the bag open and waited. Her arms shook with palsy. Remembering how mom's hands and arms shook the last time she cooked for me, I placed my items in the bag she held open. I thanked her. "She's a great, great Grandmother. Listen to her", advised the sausage maker, probably her son.

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