I’m not sure it’s possible to fall in love with a town—towns are not generally very responsive—but if it is possible to fall in love with an aspect of a town, for me it’s our local farmers’ market.
Started years ago on a dusty corner, with outdoor stalls that were exposed to all kinds of weather, the market moved recently after vigorous fundraising to a handsome new shed-like structure in the Santa Fe railyard; the old station and the trains of the Santa Fe Southern are nearby, and our new commuter train, the Railrunner, rattles by in the early morning on its way to Albuquerque.
Trains, fruits, vegetables, free range chickens and eggs, grass-fed beef, local sheep’s wool dyed with natural colors, as well as preserves, dips, hats, bags, willow furniture and assorted musicians singing and playing guitars make the place as lively as a beehive every Saturday morning. Prices for organic food are always high, but we do have a food stamp program although as our society splinters further and further apart, all the people thronging into the market look well-heeled.
We don’t plant, or spin, or weave, we buyers, but at least we are able to appreciate the labor of those who do; the only salvation, it seem to me, is work, and the work of the hands, backs and shoulders of those who farm this difficult soil—dry, sandy and likelier to become drier and sandier still as climate change scorches the southwest—seems for an hour or so to connect me to an older way.
It is of course something of a delusion, as I realize when I look at my refrigerator drawer full of of four kinds of apples I may not ever use (my composter comes in handy). But the market gives an hour of surcease from the technological jungle we inhabit, the jangling, buzzing, glaring screens, the mosquito-drill of the cell phones, the bland stare of Ipads—all gadgets that increase our isolation.
It’s hard to feel isolated around eggplants and tomatoes and the people who grow them, as, years ago, I found a source of consolation in an avocado pit reluctantly putting out shoots in a glass of water.
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