Wednesday, July 8, 2009

To market, to market

Yesterday morning I took my creaky knees for a walk down to the Green City Market, the Wednesday and Saturday produce bazaar in Lincoln Park. A light mist was falling, but it takes more than that to ruin a walk through Lincoln Park. Strolling past North Pond and the vagrant geese, across from Old Man Wrigley's mansion on Lakeview, you get a feeling that life is, on the whole, pretty darned good.

Yeah, Gio pulled an oblique muscle in batting practice and Number 12 is sulking on the bench, but trying to avoid the goose poop, while ogling the terra cotta splendor of the 20,000 square foot joint across the street is a reminder to keep an eye on the small things. Remember the words of Jeremiah . . . Give glory to the LORD your God, Before He brings darkness And before your feet stumble On the dusky mountains, And while you are hoping for light He makes it into deep darkness, And turns it into gloom.
Listen to the prophet, Alfonso.

The Green City Market on a Wednesday is filled with dogs on leashes and kids in high tech strollers with insulated cabins, cup holders, and gyro-controlled balancing systems. Also, human beings of the retired variety and 30-something moms out for their mid-morning spin through the produce.

I like everything about it. I like the folks who come there, the ones who come to sell and the ones who come to buy. I like trolling past the blueberries, raspberries and strawberries while the John Hancock looms darkly in the background. I like the single guitarist, playing Paul Simon's America while the folks a few feet away order a mid-morning treat of crepes. And I like the brightness of freshly cut flowers and the piquancy of a sample of five-year old cheddar.

I especially like looking at the names of the farms. Places like the Hoosier Mama Pie Company, the Kinnikinnick Farm, the Blue Marble Family Farm and Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin. Such names are a reminder in the middle of this big city that we live and breathe because hard working folks get up early most every day to provide the nourishment we need.

It isn't easy work. I got to talking with the farmer at the Mick Klug stand about how rainy the summer season has been. While he bagged up my blueberries, I said that all the rain was probably good for farmers. Not so. For him it meant losing half his cherry crop. Early rain, it turns out, causes cherries to absorb moisture and swell to the bursting point. They crack open and are ruined. For me the rain meant that I rode my bike less than I would like.

I came home loaded with stuff. Blueberries, raspberries, some fresh lettuce. Four tomatoes. Some unopened lilies for the dining room table. And a bag marked Mushroom Medley. I had some of the blueberries and raspberries for breakfast this morning. They were good. Really good.

In Nature's Metropolis William Cronon wrote, "To do right by nature and people in the country, one has to do right by them in the city as well, for the two seem always to find in each other their own image . . . We can only take them together and, in making the journey between them, find a way of life that does justice to them both."

The Green City Market . . . that's one small way of trying leading a life that is based on such justice.

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