Saturday was opening day at the Shelton Farm Market here in Connecticut. Last year I started helping Evelyn Belinsky from Belinsky Farm regularly at the market on Saturdays. Howard and Evy live around the corner from us, and I’ve been buying peaches and apples from them since we moved here 10 years ago. They are both in their upper 70s now, and Evy has a hard time with the heavy baskets of produce, so last year I started going to market with her full time and helping out. I think it all started the year before, helping her load up and unload, but two years ago is a blur, last year I do remember going regularly.
I became our unofficial baker of goods at market. Guy Beardsley runs the market and every weekend he brings coffee and goodies. Last year it happened that I had some extra strawberry bread no one at home ate so I brought it to market to share and so my career as our market baker began. Every Friday before market I bake a cake or bread for all our vendors and patrons. I enjoy it, and it seems everyone else does too, judging by the emptying dishes.
The first day of market is kind of like the first day of school when you were a kid. It’s exciting to see everyone after a long winter off. It is a small group of vendors and we are pretty close. Last year we lost Jay the lettuce lady. Jay used to sell organic lettuce and you could tell how good the market would be by how soon she sold out. She moved to Florida, and we were all sad to see her go. This year we worried that Lois would not be at market, she had some health issues at the end of last year and we weren’t sure she would make it back. She did, and it was great to see her bright and early on Saturday.
Early in the morning though I learned from one of our customers that Ed Popadic from Pepes Cream of the Crop had a bad accident. Ed sells clams at market and I love him dearly. He was out clamming and the boat caught fire. He suffered from third, second and first degree burns, the skin on his arms I was told peeled away from the fire. I was heartbroken and very upset to say the least, especially when I learned that he was in the burn unit and no one was allowed to visit. The day did get brighter though. Ed was released from the hospital that morning and made a surprise visit to see us all at the market. I could have cried when I saw him! He has a long road to recovery ahead but he’s alive and has a positive attitude that radiates to all those around him. This week I’ll spend some time baking some protein rich treats to drop off at the house for him.
The first day of market season is usually quiet but we got to see all of our regular customers again and it was a beautiful day. Overall business wasn’t too bad. We sold out of cherries and rhubarb. I argued with Guy (of course) over how much to pay me for the coffee cake. For some reason he thinks flour and sugar cost more than a gallon of gas. I ended up giving him back what he paid me in exchange for some strawberries I needed for mead. Ed and Lori visited, and he is alive and in good humor. Lois is back and still going, and I got to visit with everyone. Evy and I got our pictures taken (again) for the local Shelton newspaper. Life is good. Sometimes it is the simple things that make it all worth it. I look forward to next week and coming season.