The last monk leaves the garden; days decrease, and autumn grows, autumn in everything. – Robert Browning, 1855
One of things I was delighted to discover when we were dating is that not only is Pete a fantastic cook, he is also an avid vegetable gardener. Passionate about using fresh, home-grown ingredients, he loves to freeze and can seasonal fruits and vegetables. How lucky am I?
We got into the habit of visiting the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market early in our relationship. If we’re in town for the weekend, it’s pretty certain we’ll be down there early. We’ve been known to come home with enormous amounts of any number of things, and then spend the rest of the weekend “putting up” or baking. Imagine being married to someone who gets excited when canning jars and lids are on sale at Mill’s Fleet Farm! I’m tellin’ ya, you wish you were us!
If you asked, we’d likely answer that summer is our favorite. As gardeners and anglers, we identify summer as high season for both pursuits and countless happy hours. Why instead, then, does autumn cause me to think in poetry and create visual composition, even as dreaded winter looms? Maybe it’s because my schoolteacher mother encouraged reading and recitation. When this time of year rolls around, I hear “October’s bright blue weather” in the back of my head, and I start thinking in metaphor.
I’ve been in the specialty food business, creating gourmet gift baskets for corporate clients, for a decade. Through those years, I’ve seen such an increased interest in locally produced, fresh and organic foods. This has changed the way a lot of us live toward a more simple abundance. My father extolled the virtues of organic over 40 years ago, banishing chemicals from his garden. Given the recent food scares, and the relationships between artificial additives and maladies, it seems inordinately more important to know where our food is coming from and what’s in it.
My strange brain melds all these disparate elements — opinions, thoughts, snippets of poetry, experiences — together at the Farmer’s Market. It just seems so right and basic to support local farmers, and to partake of their bounty. Our market is literally a visual feast. The colors of the produce and flowers are so vivid, they hurt. The happy cacophony of many different languages reminds me that we all need the same nourishment to thrive. Pete’s sister, Jenny, and I made a quick trek this past Saturday morning — she bought 20 lbs of Colorado peaches for canning and I took the camera. So…without further ado, here are my amateur photos set to some favorite lines of poetry.
O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;
When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;
When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;
O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather. – Helen Hunt Jackson
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