May 14, 2006

Exploring the Pleasant Hill Farmers Market

Sense memories. They fascinate me for the wide range of emotions they invoke, for those parts of the past they bring momentarily and vividly into the present.

The scent of fresh-baked bread transports me back to early mornings in my grandmother's kitchen: bare feet on the linoleum floor, ice-cold orange juice and a slice of bread still warm from the oven, butter oozing into its crevices.

The crisp feel of a blank, neatly lined sheet of composition paper reminds me of all I loved about back-to-school: those first few days where the newness of the coming year still held an aura of promise and of mystery, where (at least in my head) anything was possible.

Bare feet on warm asphalt brings back memories of long summer days: swimming, summer camp, sun-tanning, wherever the muse took us, and the lazy summer evenings of BBQ and back-porch conversations that followed.

And the taste of spring's first sun-sweetened cherries reminds me of the carefree days of my childhood; the cherry tree that stood proudly in our back yard served as the stage for many memories-in-the-making. Its blossoms indicated the rain was really gone and spring and then summer were on the way. Its branches supported a tire swing providing hours of entertainment -- and me, when I climbed among them to disappear from the world for a bit. Its trunk served alternately as a 'backstop' during kickball games and as 'home base' when playing hide-and-seek. And the fruit -- the fruit was glorious. Too young to know or care their variety, I loved them for what they were: first tart, then sweet, quintessentially red.

So when cherries make their first appearance at the market, I'm a happy camper. And during Saturday's visit to the Pleasant Hill farmer's market with cherries abundant in many of the farm stalls, I was firmly ensconced in my happy place.

In addition to nearly 2 pounds of cherries, I took home a package of dried peaches for snipping onto salads, locally-produced olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey, a handful of red potatoes, some onions and an avocado.

I can see it now -- when the stress of the weekday meeting circuit gets to me, I'll grab my bag of snacking cherries and take a quick mental detour to my favorite treehouse. It's going to be a great eating-local week.

Pleasant Hill Farmers' Market, Pleasant Hill
Located @ City Hall - 100 Gregory Lane
Saturdays, from 10:00am - 2:00pm
May - October (2006 season)