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Saturday, August 05, 2006

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To market, to market

this is an audio post - click to play

The audio is of an adorable ragamuffin who was sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk downtown, singing Irish and English folktunes, rocking back and forth with his eyes closed. He looked like a junkie or a refugee from the Potato Famine. Naturally, I was smitten, and snuck this recording with my cell phone.

This morning I made my first visit all year to the downtown farmer's market. I felt very cosmopolitan, ambling among the vegetable stalls and buskers, smelling peaches and melons and chitchatting with a concertina player from the U.K. When I first moved here, the downtown--like many American cities in the eighties and nineties--was completely vacant after 5 p.m. on Friday. I pined for a place to get a decent cup of coffee or fresh herbs or a chocolate croissant and sit and watch the people pass by on Saturday mornings. In theory, anyway. In actuality, it wouldn't have done me any good, as my coffee-drinking and people-watching was mostly happening in pancake joints at four in the morning, after my shift at the bar ended and the after-hours club had closed down. But in those early days, I was still trying to persuade Patrick that we should move on to Austin or some other more fashionable place and my inability to purchase bunches of fresh chevril at eight in the morning--should I need to--was a key point in my case.

The farmer's market, and the whole downtown revitalization program that incubated it, were just fledgling at the time. Now in its tenth anniversary year, I have not patronized it nearly as much I as I'd like. After I retired from the club scene, the children started coming, and while I was now up early enough to get the coffee and crossaint, I no longer had the free hands to do so.

Before you have children, you think you know exactly what kind of parent you are going to be. Then you have them, and you realize that you didn't allow for the fact that they were going to be small humans, not cool accessories. I pictured myself as the kind of hipmama who would take her kids everywhere. So I didn't get to backpack across Europe in my twenties. No problem. I'd just go with the kids. So we didn't make it back to Mexico in the timeframe we'd promised. We'll go back with our kids. So we don't have any family members within two thousand miles who can babysit for us. Where ever we need to go, we'll take the kids.

If I knew how to spell WA-HA-HA-HA! and the sound that a person makes with warmed-over Folgers coffee coming out of their nose, I'd insert it here.

The truth is, I don't even like to go to the grocery store with my kids. What on earth made me think we'd be up for Eurorail?

As my friend Sarah says, when the children outnumber the parents, you've got to weigh the schlepp factor against the merit of being at any given destination. More often than not, that calculation comes out to "Nah."

And so I haven't gotten to market more than a couple of times a season, and I didn't buy bunches of fresh herbs today because it is against my children's religion to eat chlorophyll; nor did I eat a croissant, because that would lead to a starch-and-sugar binge that would result in me living on the sidewalk outside the bakery stall, inhaling pastries from a paper sack. But I did make it there and back with all three children, one of whom--my lovely Prufrock--dared to eat a peach. We came home with zinnias and watermelon, and while it may have been a mere six miles round-trip, but we all felt like we'd been somewhere. Who knows, maybe next time we'll even ride the trolley, as practice for when we take Eurorail.

When everyone is over eighteen, appreciates chevril, and can carry their own backpack, that is.

filed under: culture, kids, goodtimes
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Blogger Lennie said...

oh please call me next time you have a hankerin to visit the market! i am a veteran now as a single mom, since husband is running for office and all... why just today i maneuvered my two through the hope watermelon festival whilst my candidate husband dodged his opponents' spewing venom and ignorant questions about pro-life/pro-choice (as if you can't be both!). Anyhoo, c, v, and i would love to brave the market crowds with you guys any saturday or tuesday!

12:42 AM  

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