The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Wake up to the feastly feast

Wake up!  Wake up!  Wake up!

My cell phone poked me at 6:30 a.m.  today–Saturday–(because I forgot I had the alarm set for my dentist appointment yesterday).  Groan.  Moan.  The good thing, though, was that getting up early got me to the Lawrence Farmers’ Market in the fairly early morning.  Early mornings–before Kansas gets hot and icky-sticky–are good times of the day around here.  And the Lawrence Farmers’ Market is sumptuously good for all the senses, which makes me wonder why I don’t get here every single time the farmers’ market is doing its thing.

Writing a novel involves going down a lot of dead end streets.  When I was working on Lanie’s stories, I was convinced, for a long time, that I was going to be crafting scenes at a farmers’ market.  I read about farmers’ markets in Cambridge and I also read about farms in that area that have CSA shares available…and families who buy CSA shares…and what it’s like to be a locavore in Massachusetts. 

Here’s the thing about waking up.  Almost every place I’ve lived, a good many of us living there have assumed that the fabulous things of life are happening some place else.  That’s a great thing about locavores.  It’s hard to wake up and notice what’s right under our noses.  Locavores do.

The parking lot this morning made me notice things.  It made me remember there’s nothing like growing something, when you’re a kid, to make you really notice it.  That was one of the gifts of growing up in Maji, Ethiopia.  No shops.  My dad had a huge garden, and he figured out a way to put in a mill so that local grain could get ground into flour.  Market day happened once a week in the town of Maji.  People brought their wares up to the house. Eggs and little, fat bananas and occasionally something great like a papya or pineapple that couldn’t grow up in the mountains where I lived (which is the disadvantage of being a locavore).

You might be surprised at what’s available locally in August in Lawrence, Kansas.  Emu bones for your dog.  Lavender sachets.  Duck eggs.  Garlic.  Onions.  Peaches.  Apples.  Kale.  Green beans.  Okra.  Watermelon.  Lamb.  Chicken.  Beef.  Sand hill plums that used to be the only sweet, fruity things some Kansans ate all summer. Elk antlers.  Honey.  We could buy only from the farmer’s market and make a feastly feast–and a lot of it would have been grown with no chemicals in the rich, dark Kansas dirt.  In the farmers’ market, everything glistens, even the dogs.

I walked there.  I walked home.  The whole time of walking and wandering, I was awake.  I kept noticing things.  Delicate things.  Robust things.  Fluffy and sleek and shiny and glossy things.  Something I love about being a writer is that being a writer often forces me to gooo slooow and look, look, look.  Something like growing up in Maji where all the baking got done in a wood-burning stove and hot water came my way once a week.

The farmers’ market food is home now.  I didn’t really buy all that much.  But every bite of it is going to be a feastly feast.  So thank you, cell phone.  Wake up, wake up, wake up.

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