An Embarrassment of Riches and a Richness of Embarrassment

The bounty from today’s excursion at the Athens Farmer’s Market. Clockwise from the bottom left: pencil-thin asparagus, baby Japanese turnips, smoked bacon, scallions, a locally grown hydroponic tomato, hardneck garlic, chicken breasts, basil, cilantro and fragrant strawberries, just picked this morning on a farm next to the Hocking River.

I have returned, again.

No, I have not beeen writing, though it is not for lack of trying. The RSI (Repeated Stress Injury) in my wrists has returned with a hideous vengeance, making it difficult to nigh on impossible for my to type for any period of time. It is not surprising–moving involves lots of use of arms and hands for packing, lifting, loading and carrying. Now that we are here, there is a lot more lifting loading and carrying in the unpacking department; furthermore, I have been washing down walls, painting, scrubbing and using screwdrivers, hammers and other impliments of construction and destruction, which leads to new repetative motions and load-bearing activities that my wrists, forearms, shoulders and back disagree with.

So, I have been icing my wrists, going to a new massage therapist and searching in vain for my wrist braces. I finally bought some more, knowing that if I do that and wear them, then the old ones will show up out of the blue, and I will feel foolish for plunking down the cash for a new set of them.

Such is life. So that is the richness of embarrassment. How about the embarrassment of riches?

We just came back from the farmer’s market with a lovely stash of local goodies to cook and consume. It is very fulfilling to get up early in the morning on Saturday, and wander over to see the crowds of people at the farmer’s market, all milling around, talking, laughing, eating and drinking, visiting and buying locally grown and produced vegetables, herbs, meats, eggs, honey, cider, fruits, and flowers. Folks buy bedding plants, vegetable starts, herbs and seeds for their gardens, and choose from an array of freshly baked goods like hearth breads, pies (rhubarb is in season now), scones, rolls and pretzels. One lady brings cookies to which I am addicted: she calls them Peanut Butter Slammers. I have to watch myself, or I would eat two of them a day–they are two big, tender peanut butter cookies sandwiched with a filling of peanut buttercream icing. Oh, they are sinfully delectable.

Luckily all of this lifting, loading, hefting, toting and going up and down the stairs in the new house has resulted in a loss of flab and a gain of muscle. Otherwise each bite of a Slammer would probably throw another pound or two of excess flesh upon my frame.

A trip to the Athens Farmer’s Market isn’t just a shopping excursion. There is a real community atmosphere at the market; there is always live music, bakers and and canners give out samples of their wares, there is an outdoor cafe where folks sit and have a nosh and drink coffee, and everywhere you look there are friends you know and friends you just haven’t met yet. It is just a happy place.

Today, in addition to picking up a delicious haul of ingredients for the coming week’s meals, we got to talk with some friends who had brought kittens from a stray they had taken in, and managed to adopt them out. I was buying asparagus from some wonderful Quaker farmers when Zak, who was munching contentedly on a blueberry scone heard the unmistakable sound of a wee kitten mewling. He saw a tiny white and orange kitten go by on someone’s shoulder. It turned out it was our friends Eli and Mikio, who had brought the last kittens of the litter to give them away at the market. While we stood and talked with them, a lady brought by the last of a litter of puppies a stray had whelped at her house.

Athens is a place where you can trust the folks you give a kitten to at the market to take care of that cat as it grows up. Not only are people committed to growing and eating good food, and working towards a sustainable local food economy, but they care about animals, kids and each other. Even though it happens in the parking lot of a mostly-empty strip mall, the farmer’s market is a relaxed sort of place where you can take the time to visit with neighbors while you shop for food–it is a far cry from the soulless environment of most huge grocery stores. You can visit with the farmers, ask them questions, and give them feedback about their produce. You can share recipes with strangers, and get gardening advice from the Master Gardeners from OSU’s Extension Program or from the gardeners who just happen to be milling around.

It is an amazing experience to see people come together and celebrate food and community, not only on a holiday, but once a week, in the spirit of friendship and local solidarity.

It is really good to be home.


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  1. I find that taking a daily b12 helps my RSI.

    While I don’t take this all the time, I start taking it when I feel the injuries start to get agrevated.

    It’s a tip that my nuerologist gave me and so far it’s kept me away from surgery. I start to notice improvement after a few days.


    Comment by Kitarra — June 5, 2005 #

  2. Thank you, Kit. I haven’t tried that–I have only been to my GP, however, for the problem, and she probably never heard of using vitamin b12. I will start taking some and see if it helps.

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — June 5, 2005 #

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