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Possumhaw: Down at the farmers' market

 

Shannon Bardwell

 

If there's anything I hate to kill it's time, but there I was, tooling around waiting for the farmers' market to open so I could buy some of those "sweet-tasting, ugly cantaloupes" advertised by Black Creek Farms. 

 

Even though I knew that one had been "put back for me," I wanted them all. It was said of the sweet home-grown melons that there were only a couple.  

 

I was the first patron to arrive. The rule is that you can't buy before the siren goes off, so I watched the farmers set up. There's something about a farmer that touches me deep. I looked at the weathered faces and hands and I wanted to buy everything they had, even though I know Sam is not going to eat peppers or shallots or shell peas. And I'm not going to fry okra or peel eggplant.  

 

I wanted them to know that I love what they do and that it matters. I wanted them to know that I care and that's why I'm hanging around the farmers' market -- that and the promise of sweet cantaloupes. 

 

At the Black Creek Farms stand I struck up a conversation with owner Scott Enlow about whiteflies and organic pesticides and how well his and Lydia's farming is going. I saw the two cantaloupes on the table and put my hand on them and rolled them around under my palm. The siren hadn't gone off yet and more people wandered up. I kept my hand on the cantaloupes and slid two zucchini over toward them. 

 

Behind me, Marlene Hansen stepped up. "Scott do you have any more cantaloupes?" She eyed my hand on the two on the table. "Well, just these," he nodded toward the two under my hand. 

 

"These are mine," I said. Scott started backing up like a cat fight might break out. "But I'll share," I conceded.  

 

"I'll take the smaller one," she said. 

 

I felt guilty knowing I had another one under the table. "No, you can have the larger one." Generous, I thought.  

 

The siren sounded and we moved in like bees on honey. I got my cantaloupes and zucchini abandoned Marlene and moved over to the blueberry man. Several folks pooled up like water in a puddle. I nodded toward a family and said, "I believe you were next." They had a child with them so I felt I should be courteous. 

 

Anne Freeze passed behind me stepping quickly toward Scott, "Do you have any more cantaloupes?" Scott said he didn't and she moved on down the line. 

 

Kay and Tommy Jones passed; we spoke briefly about the farmers and wishing we could buy it all. They lingered only a moment then moved on. I hoped they weren't looking for the sweet-tasting cantaloupes. 

 

It was my turn at the blueberry stand and, thanks to the farmers, Sam and I would be enjoying our Cheerios with fresh blueberries and sweet cantaloupe.

 

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.

 

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