No school. No job. No schedule. Compared to my life a mere month ago, more than a few things have changed. It's summer - one of the first where I'm not moving or dealing with medical issues - and the hot wind on my face smells fresher than ever.
I've never been good at doing nothing. My parents, the usual victims to my bored summer antics, know that for a fact. For the first time, though, I'm okay going to sleep with a blog post or new granola recipe as my only "accomplishment" for the day. I'm peaceful. I'm cruisin'. To put it simply, I'm lazy, spending my days walking the dog, experimenting with new foods and recipes, and binging on Netflix.
And, most recently, perusing my local farmer's market.
I love the idea of farmer's markets, but don't usually have the time or patience. I know what I need and I know that Sprouts has it - so why fight the crowds for vegetables I could buy at the same or lower price (and in a place with air conditioning to boot?). Last Saturday, though, I woke up early with nothing to do. And decided on taking an adventure.
The Poway Farmer's Market isn't a trip to Wonderland, but is respectable enough, boasting enough booths to shut down our local historical district for the day. I had explored it a couple times with my mom before, but not recently, so there were plenty of surprises.
One of the best of those was definitely the plethora of gluten free booths. Sure, a majority of the sellers focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, shiny strawberries and chard leaves still damp with dew sitting on white tablecloths. But, while I still drooled over the gluten-filled tapas and donuts, I did sample a spoon of gluten and dairy free coconut sorbet. The gluten free bakery whose chocolate chip cookies melt in your mouth was also there, along with stands selling almond butter, Bitchin' Sauce and tortilla chips, and smoothies.
I didn't end up buying any of the processed gluten free treats, but it was a breath of fresh air (title word play obviously intended) to see that everyone could enjoy a local treat. To witness how gluten free food has grown in popularity enough to appear even at the small-time level.
And to experience some naturally gluten free foods for the first time. Days before I went, I marveled over an eight ball zucchini in a magazine. When I spotted a small basket of them for sale that morning, I knew I couldn't turn down fate's invitation to experiment. The first time I cooked with them (first hallowed out and stuffed with veggies, salmon, and pesto, later stuffed with veggies, turkey and homemade vegan cheese sauce), I had no idea what I doing. And that made the delicious results even better!
As I was checking out, the young woman in charge asked if I wanted to try some of "nature's pop rocks." I shrugged and figured, Why not? Known as the Sechuan button, these South African edible flowers are known for their edible "zing" and use as palate cleansers. I was just happy that she kept me from taking a big bite - the 1/4 of a penny piece I chewed was plenty to make my mouth taste slightly metallic!
But when I bit into one of the offered strawberries seconds later, it tasted sweeter than any before! I did endure the unfortunate side effect of extra drool for a handful of minutes after, but the poppin' experience was definitely a memory I won't forget!
As I strolled by other booths, I mused about how life is a lot like a strawberry. People can easily - and often unconsciously - adapt to and expect the sweetness, without savoring or working for it anymore. By the time I dragged myself back into air-conditioned doors, my shirt was wet with sweat and my bag heavy with my market finds: two eight ball zucchinis, one huge head of chard, and an avocado.
The latter still hasn't ripened (despite its paper bag imprisonment), but I honestly don't mind waiting. A new feeling for me - and one I want to foster.
I'm not taking classes. I don't have a job. But, this summer, my goal is still to learn. How to enjoy weaving though Saturday crowds (with huge strollers clogging up every lane) at the market. How to be thankful for every day off, even if I don't do much. Most importantly, to strive for a fresh take on something every day - whether through a new recipe, a new trail to walk in the cool evenings, or a new local sight to check out.
And, after two long semesters of popping from one activity or obligation to the next, no wonder this tastes so sweet.
What's your favorite summer activity? Do you ever scope out farmer's markets - if so, what's your favorite find? Comment below!