Main Street Market

It’s Wednesday. We plan on going to the Main St Market tonight, but it’s only open from 4-6PM. It’s a true farmer’s market with less craft stuff and more food stuff, from what we’ve heard. We’re hoping to find good local produce priced more reasonably than the Greenlife Grocery store. But, in order to get there with time to shop before they close, I will need to take a break from work no later than 4:45PM.

I am having one of those busy days with a calendar so full of meetings that I just keep collecting action items throughout the day. I manage to get some things done during the last call of the day, but I have only 45 minutes to make sure I get anything I need today from anyone in my time zone so I can finish up on the other items I need to get done today after I get back from the market. This, of course, takes longer than expected and we find ourselves rushing to get to the market at the last possible minute.

We grab our bikes and get downstairs as fast as we can. Then we realize rush hour has started and we need to revise our planned route. We will take Walnut St bridge instead of Market St, although it seems wrong that we would not take Market St to the market. It’s a beautiful fall evening to be out riding, even at rush hour. Once we make it to Walnut and start our way up this wood-surfaced bridge, the old nursery rhyme “To market, to market” starts in my head to the rhythm of our tires rolling over the wood planks. We, however, will not be buying any of the nursery rhyme items.

As we exit The Walnut St bridge, we realize we have the problem that we don’t actually know where we’re going. The Main St Market is somewhere on Main (yep, figured that part out all by ourselves) between Market St and Broad St. We know where Market and Broad are, but not where Main St is. We want to stay on Walnut as long as possible to avoid traffic, but we aren’t sure if Main and Walnut intersect. We cruise South and decide as long as we keep going South, we have to hit Main at some point. This turns out not to be true. Or, at least we run out of road before we hit Main. Then we have to go West to get to another road that goes South and we find the roads so confusing that we aren’t sure whether we could have gone around Main or not and are unsure of whether we’re too South or not South enough. We pull over and google.  As one might have predicted, we are not South enough.

We find just how South we need to be and head on down the road, finding the market just where google says it is. We are somewhat relieved that there are not that many tents set up–we wouldn’t have had time to peruse them all if it would have been a big market. Although fewer tents means fewer options, given that the season for fresh produce is winding down, I don’t know that even having 10 more vendors would have made the selection significantly more varied.

We circle our way around the market, selecting fresh green beans, gorgeous yams, and a bunch of multi-colored radishes that resemble a bouquet of flowers. Then, we get to a stand with wheat and wheat flour. I am tempted to buy some wheat four just to see if it works for bread, but I remind myself how long it’s been since I last made bread and decide I’m not likely to take up bread making as a hobby any time soon. Instead, we strike up a conversation with the wheat farmer and learn that he teaches Spanish at one of the local schools and farms wheat in his spare time. He tells us that he has wheat all year long here and that the market stays open, although the hours go to 4-5 in December when there isn’t enough light to see after 5. I had forgotten about the short days coming–I guess the longer duration of daylight savings time has me thrown.

Next, we visit Lou and Eddie’s stand. We met them at the Oktoberfest market and have been enjoying their honey for the past few days. Although we have met them inly two times briefly and as customers, I feel like we’re visiting old friends. Lou takes me to a cheese maker’s booth and has me try the cheeses. The cheese maker suggests the milder of her two cheeses to try with slices of honeycomb (also purchased on Sunday). I then return to Lou’s booth and we end up chatting about hair while Pat and Eddie finish their conversation. Eddie tells us he’s going to be semi-retired soon. I suggest he should label his honey “Limited Edition” and charge more.

Next, we hit the last few stands, getting a few purple peppers and a small, heavy loaf of whole wheat bread with a crisp crust. Pat selects the bread and then asks how much it is. We are both surprised when the baker says it’s $6–the produce has all be very reasonably priced.  Pat nearly hands it back to her, but doesn’t since he didn’t ask before she bagged it. We contemplate the loaf of bread and wonder if it’s baked with gold, which would explain both it’s price and it’s weight. As we walk away, I wonder if we got the “let’s see how much you fools are willing to spend on bread” price and if, perhaps we were supposed to barter.

As we return to the honey stand to say our good-byes (we really didn’t need to rush so much to get here after all), a car goes by in the street and a man with a bull horn leans out the window and starts saying things. Everyone looks puzzled–either the bullhorn or alcohol has garbled the man’ speech and no one can understand what he’s trying to say. Fortunately, he moves on.

On the way back, we decide to turn off Market St early so we can avoid going up a really steep hill to the Walnut St bridge. However, we had failed to notice on the way out that Walnut is one-way between the bridge and where we are and we are now going to the wrong way.  Because the road is narrow and has parked cars, we decide not to risk it and go around the block instead.  As we wait to cross a fairly busy intersection, a guy with a bullhorn drives buy, also barking unintelligibly from the car window.  I ask Pat, “Was that the same guy as over at the Market?”  and Pat says, “There was a guy with a bullhorn at the market?  What’d he say?”  I have to laugh because of course, no one knows and I am also amused that Pat was apparently engrossed in a conversation to the extent that he missed a guy with a bullhorn.  In any case, since the odds of there being two such men with bullhorns seem smaller than the odds of there being one, I have to assume that it’s the same guy, driving around Chattanooga looking for people to shout something at.  I wonder if he is just having fun and doesn’t care that no one can understand him or if he actually believes he has an important message that everyone must hear and doesn’t realize no one can understand him?  Either way, it’s clearly a poor choice of communication methods.  One of my favorite (mis-)quotes from Emerson pops into my head:  “Who you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”  The fact that the bullhorn makes the shouting literal in this case makes me smile.

When we return home, I roast the sweet potatoes and green beans in the oven while Pat prepares salmon.  We try the bread and it’s good, but not $6 good.  I go back to work between cooking and eating and then manage to finish up the critical items I needed to get done today in another couple of hours after we eat.  I am wound up after working late all week and take my iPad to bed with me in the hope of getting my mind off work enough to fall asleep.  When at last I drift off, I think of the man with the bullhorn one last time and smile.

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