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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tropical flowers at the farmer's market

As you know, I have a booth at the west side farmer's market every Wednesday.  If you live locally, you also know that we've had some really dry and occasionally really hot weather pretty much since February.

When you combine the two, things get interesting.  For one thing, the market is set on the asphalt parking lot of Cumberland Park, with only token trees to offer a minimum of shade.  Once our popup shelters are in place things start to cool down, but it takes a bit for all the heat in the pavement to radiate out.  I'm really glad of my bamboo rug on the hot days; people tell me that my booth is actually a little more comfortable because of it.

When the weather tops 90 degrees or so, two things appear in the market that you never see at any other time.  One is my foot bath.  It's a little camp tub with a gallon or so of water in it and some ice cubes, and on the really horrible days, the ones where most people just give up and start whimpering, that little thing makes the entire day survivable.  I make no apologies for having a foot bath in my booth; hell, I'be got a bamboo rub in there.  The whole thing is pretty much a portable day spa.

But the other thing that appears is just neat.  The really hot days are the only times - the only times - that you see the little old Indian ladies at the farmer's market.

See, we have a lot of families around here from India, Pakistan, and that general part of the world, thanks to the university and especially its grad program.  We see young moms and dads, and their kids, all the time.  But apparently, if you're in your seventies and you've lived most of your life in a country where the word "monsoon" isn't used as an exaggeration, the weather here is too cold to set foot outside for most of the year.

But when the temperature tops 90 degrees, ah, that's when the little old ladies finally feel comfy, so that's when they come out.  And, of course, being old-school and traditional, these women are not interested in our dippy Western clothing, thank you.  While the rest of us are whimpering in our shorts or reaching for our foot baths, they are strolling in quiet dignity through the market, wearing these gorgeous saris in brilliant red and gold and green, marriage dots between their eyebrows, picking through the vegetables with their little old men nearby to offer their elbows and hold the grocery bags as they go.

It's sweet.

The little old Indian ladies remind me of tropical flowers - all these beautiful, exotic colors that only come out a few days of the year, when the climate is just right.  I always used to think it was my imagination, but I checked with some of the market staff, and no - it's true.  The little old Indian ladies won't come out if the weather is too cold.  It's just that for them, "too cold" is anything under the level where the rest of us start begging for mercy and cranking up the A/C.

Seeing them always makes me smile.

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