Monday, October 3, 2011

A farmers market is therapy for the frazzled soul. An outdoor market as clean, orderly and genteel as this is a novelty to an immigrant like me. I have unflattering memories of Divisoria, "the mother of all markets in Manila" as WikiPilipinas calls it. The stalls were sardined together. Personal space was at a premium in the constant crush of human traffic. The smells were dizzying. You could get lost in there.

Evidently I remember it accurately, as Wiki mentions that malls have sprung up around Divisoria in the last two decades "to cater to bargain hunters who wanted to avoid the crowds, frenzied atmosphere and maze-like set-up of the outdoor markets."

The farmers market is a summer fixture in California's Central Valley. Downtown Modesto holds its farmers market outside the county library. In the early '90s when I wrote for the regional paper, which has its headquarters downtown, a brisk stroll to the Farmers Market was how we began our day. I usually came back to my desk pleased to be lugging a bag of fragrant bread or freshly picked fruit.

The day I walked around with my camera, someone was serenading the marketgoers, accompanying himself on his guitar. It's the community's time to come out and trade pleasantries. You have the rare rule breaker, of course, the one who chooses to ignore the formal request to leave the pooches at home. But the dogs were well-behaved.

You'll find beauty queen veggies as well as imperfect beauties... 

All kinds of feet are welcome at the farmers market. There's a place for tip-tap-happy feet and tired dogs.

The county library was holding a book sale the weekend I went. It captured the turnout from the farmers market. From the looks of it, not everyone downloads their books. I find that comforting.

A farmers market offers a more relaxed feel than the impersonal places where people go to buy—the grocery, the mall, the gas station Quikstop.

Fall's arrival signals that the farmers market's days are numbered, at least until next summer. There aren't many things about summer here that I miss, certainly not the oven-baked temperature. But the farmers market makes it bearable. Till next summer then, adieu.