.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Farmers' Market

We went to the farmers' market today
to taste the colors and see the smells
and be touched to hear a lady say,
"I need one bunch of sunflowers please."
She didn’t say "I'd like" but whispered "I need"
as if a niche in her empty days cried out
for circles of gold 'round spirals of black seed
clutched in a Ball quart jar. Beyond her,
boxes and bags wove under an awning
of patchwork shade made wider by canopies
and sagging tarps lashed to the yawning
tailgates of trailers and trucks. Some so
broken down and wired up that otherwise
they’re never seen in town, but these eyesores
on this day become a sight for sore eyes—
backed up and spilling heaps of leafy greens,
carrots and cukes and vine-ripe tomatoes,
chives and cherries, blue and strawberries,
peppers and sweet corn and red-skin potatoes.
Each plank and table bends with things so fresh
they don’t yet miss their stems or stalks.
“Who will buy” sings out at every turn.
It’s in the way each vendor talks
of rain and sun and the stewardship of soil.
It’s in the way each buyer understands
the work behind the scribbled cards and signs
as cash and coins and quarts pass hands.
It’s in the way this cornucopia reminds
us that beyond the beeping, bustling lines
of traffic and blocks of towering brick
are places where rain falls and sun shines
on garden rows and orchard lanes
that rustle in the summer breeze.
It's in the jars of honeycomb
plundered from stacked-up hives of bees
and waiting to be poured out
on bread made just the night before
in a kitchen left a mess from baking,
left with flour on the floor
and the smell of warm yeast in the air.
The aroma of the crusted mounds
of wheat and rye and cinnamon
mingles with the sights and sounds
of Cain’s offering put to proper use
by those who grow and them that gather there
to taste and see and touch and smell
and carry off their needed share.
© TRK Patterns of Ink, Copyright, 2007
Saturday and Wednesday mornings a farmers' market sets up at a covered parking lot by the Grand Haven board walk. Sometimes we go there on our way to our favorite antique shops, and it has occurred to me that two pastimes couldn't be more unalike: Bright perishable goods that shout "Buy me this minute while I'm fresh" VS. faded, dusty things that whisper, "Buy me. I'm so old I'm worth more now than when I was new.”
This piece attempts to touch all of the senses, but I used the verbs taste and see twice in conjunction (in the second line and second-from-the-end). This pairing comes from the Psalms and seems to say, "Focus one sense on the goodness of this one thing and it will open your eyes."
The Grand Haven Farmers' Market looks a bit like this one in Ann Arbor (except this is footage from the early fall). Here's a clip from Boulder, Colorado, [also shot in the fall] that shows the vendor's point of view. (BTW, my wife and I lived one year in Muncie, Indiana, home of Ball canning jars, whose namesake's legacy includes Ball State University.)
And lastly, here are two more Youtube links in case it's been a while since you've heard or seen the song "Who Will Buy" from Oliver. (That is the long film version. It loses the "fresh produce" touch after the first few minutes. Here's a shorter stage production of the song.)
[Photos from the talented folks at flickr.com.]
"Bringing Home the Duncan Phyfe" Part II is still on its way... =)


Anonymous Rhea said...

I love farmers' markets. We have a bunch of them in Boston. They come in from Vermont, etc., to sell their gorgeous produce, pies, honey, etc.

18/7/07 10:53 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

The pictures and descriptions made feel like I was there. It brings back wonderful memories of when I used to go with my dad, early on Saturday mornings. I always got to pick out one special treat.

18/7/07 1:56 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Good images both in the words and in the pictures . I love farmer's markets.I fill your tag tomorrow.

18/7/07 4:14 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

Your imagery is great here. It was especially meaningful to me because I was at our local farmer's market today to "carry off my needed share." Red juicy tomatoes. Zucchini and yellow squash. Pattypan squash which I stuffed and served for dinner tonight. Apple cinnamon bread. Asiago bread and a tomato-based dipping sauce. I kept one third of each loaf and then drove across town this afternoon to our dauaghter's house to give her family the rest of the bread and dipping sauce.

It was a good day!

18/7/07 7:34 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I forget that you are in Boston. Most people think of Detroit when they think of Michigan, but actually it's very much like Vermont except with thousands of miles of beautiful shoreline--aside from cars, it's mostly an agricultural state. On my way home from school today, I saw about 50 migrant workers picking the rows of a blueberry farm.

Have you ever gone to the Grand Haven FM? It's right beside the tall blue canopy at Chinook Pier where the charter boats clean their catch of the day. Natalie also came home with something she chose--one huge sunflower (but she was not the "lady" in the opening lines =)

Dr. John,
I used to grow my own tomatoes, and there's nothing like picking and eating right from the vine, but a farmers' market is almost that good. Looking forward to 8 random things about you.

I sliced one of the tomatoes and made a nice toasted BLT, but what you've described here sounds like a rare treat. Oh, my! I’ll bet it made your daughter very happy--a great day indeed!

I'm glad the imagery worked. Few things involve all the senses as fully as a farmers' market.

18/7/07 9:50 PM  
Blogger leslie said...

I love the way you describe the market. Makes me feel like I'm there - I can "see the smells and see the tastes" right along with you. Everywhere I go, I enjoy the local markets, including the one Josie and I attended in my own little village (you may recall our posts about it).

18/7/07 10:43 PM  
Blogger jmb said...

Thank you for this very nice description and the photos of this special place.
It certainly is a different experience from hustling to the supermarket and throwing things in the basket and rushing out again.
Thanks for coming by and telling me how Kip is doing. That was quite a scare you all had and I'm glad he's doing well now. I hope he gets his peppiness back soon.

18/7/07 11:39 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

What's a farmer? lol

19/7/07 4:13 AM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

wow! what a well-written article tom. i could hear the voices and smell the smells thru your words. makes me want to run out right now and buy. *lol* we have open farmer markets in D.C., and of course, little farmer markets along the roadsides in maryland. the Amish have a real nice market in annapolis, even though it's on the inside. i'd love to have a garden someday where i can grow my own fruits and veggies.

19/7/07 9:54 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I'll have to look for that. I remember you and Josie had a weekend outing some time back, because that was the first time I knew you knew each other.

We have some great local supermarkets around here and they do create very inviting produce departments, but there's something about buying just-picked stuff out of dirty trucks that make it a lot more fun! =)

Okay, Mark. I'm going to test your memory here... I know you know what a farmer is BUT... do you remember a "hit song" that came out of a Detroit-area garage band around 1968 called "Farmer John"? The shameless lyrics went something like this: "Oh, Farmer John, I'm in love with your daughter...I like the way she talks, the way she squawks, the way she wiggles and the way she walks! Oh, Farmer John, I'm in love with your daughter." It was a cheesy one-hit wonder, but I used to sing about "Farmer Jack" grocery store to that song's tune. Are there still Farmer Jack stores in the Detroit area?

There's an Amish area south of us in Indiana called Shipshewana. All around that town are wonderful roadside stands and stores. Part of me is drawn to the Amish traditions and the "simplicity" they embrace and farmers' markets (with or without Amish vendors)have a way of saying "These are the things that really matter. These are the things Jesus had in mind when He said,'Give us this day our daily bread.'" The rest is all wood, hay, and stubble.

19/7/07 4:08 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Just a quick note to let you know you won today's Priceless Prize. Please stop by the Fortress and let us know if you want the Prize of the Day or what's behind a door.

I also need your address which you can send to

20/7/07 10:35 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Dr. John,
I won! I won! I rarely win such prestigious honors as the Priceless Blue Hippo award. I'll email you all the needed info and a draft of a press release. =)

Seriously, you have so much fun stuff happening up their in your neck of the U.P. and it’s a special place in our cyberhood.
Thanks for including us in it.

20/7/07 6:40 PM  
Blogger EA Monroe said...

Tom, this is a wonderful post! I was there, too. It reminded me of my Aunt Vesta and her garden and my Grandpa and his truck garden and selling his tomatoes and peaches at the roadside vendors' stands around Guthrie, OK. I love it when good writing stirs up life.

21/7/07 11:07 AM  
Blogger leslie said...

Hi Tom, I didn't see an email to send you some info directly, so pop back over to my site for a response to your post to me.

21/7/07 4:26 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

"I love it when good writing stirs up life." E.A. Monroe
I love good quotes about writing, and I'll add that to my list.
Guthrie, Oklahoma, sounds like a cool place. Is it named after Woody Guthrie? I studied him when I did some research on the Great Depression in grad school.

I read your reply to that comment after "In The Name of Honor" on July 19. That was a very interesting dialogue I had back in April. (Others can click here scroll down to April 25 to know what we're talking about.) I don't fault the person I was emailing. She just failed to see the irony that we're laying out the red carpet for Islam and sending Christianity to the back door--which is locked!

22/7/07 6:26 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I have not been to the one in GH, only the one here, and not for many years. The last time I went with my husband we were very dissappointed with the selection and the quality of the products. Everything thing just looked old. I was thinking as I was reading this post though, that I should bring the kids down there one morning. I know they would love it.

22/7/07 8:14 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

If i started eating healthy now it would probably kill me. But the pictures were well done and the description also...hey can i bum a smoke and a coffee from you? LOL



23/7/07 4:08 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Farmer jacks are now all gone, bought up by Kroger's which sold the less profitable ones to who ever wanted them and the more profitable (read better areas like Grosse Pointe) they re branded with their own tag.

No I have no recollection of that song but by the time you refer to I was either into The Who, the Beatles, folk music or classical music not the local band scene.

23/7/07 4:12 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Maybe it was just the sentimental mood I was in (combined with my tendency to observe more than shop at such places), but it's a nice little market, and you can always walk the pier to the lighthouse and make a full morning of it.

I'd be happy to share a cup-a-joe with you but you're on your own for the smokes, you health nut you.
So Farmer Jack’s Grocery Store Chain is no more. I just got in from Meijer and I must say they're pretty nice stores--not always the cheapest but cheerful and clean as a Dutch sidewalk.

23/7/07 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dad, I finally got to read your Farmer's market piece. It is very well-written and I will always remember that morning. It was the first thing I got to do with you guys as a married woman. Love Emily

25/7/07 11:44 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

AWwwwww... Thanks for remembering, Em, and for leaving a comment.

I'll never forget watching you and your mom asking a vendor if you could by one quart of rasberries(which was cheaper than two pints) but if she wouldn't mind pouring half of the quart into a spare pint since you were sharing it. (You two are such good shoppers! =) and the lady was happy to do it. I took a picture of you two and Nat with my cell phone, but I haven't yet figured out how to get it from the phone to my laptop. I may need your help.

(We're still camping. I just have temporary wireless access. Hope you and Keith come up to our campfire again. That was fun.)

26/7/07 6:11 AM  
Blogger maria said...

What a beautiful description of a farmer's market.

It couldn't come at a better time as I just returned from the market myself.

A visit there is always a special treat for me.

I bought another basil plant (all young and peppy). I keep touching it and smelling my fingers. Wonderful scent.


27/7/07 11:55 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Welcome to POI. Glad you found this post. I'll have to try the fresh basil next time. I did see one of the stands had all sorts of homegrown herbs and spices. I'm not a cook, so I tend to consider it a good day at the market if the tomatoes are good enough to eat like an apple. (A little messy but with just a touch of salt and a napkin, they're really good that way. =)

30/7/07 7:13 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Offshore Jones Act
Offshore Jones Act Counter