We have spoken here in the past of small pleasures. Some, like a hot shower first thing in the morning, can be indulged in regularly, indefinitely and almost anywhere. Others, alas, must change with life circumstances and it is up to us, when that happens, to find replacements that don't only fill a void, but supply a different though equal satisfaction.
Now that I am a year settled in to my new digs in a new town, I have come to realize how desperately I relied upon and miss New York corner delis. Nearly every block has one and so packed are they with the needs and minutiae of daily life that I long ago became convinced that, if necessary, one could live without ever requiring another source of goods. In addition, the corner deli is the neighborhood town square where micro-local gossip and information are exchanged, and the guys behind the counter will spot you a $10 or $20 when you're short.
There are no corner delis in Portland, Maine.
But there is a new pleasure here which, while not a substitute, I have come to appreciate as much as visits to my New York deli. Rain or shine, every Wednesday from April through October or so, you will find me at the farmer’s market at Monument Square in the middle of Portland's downtown.
I go early, 7:30 or 8AM, because I like to be out and about in the morning air and it is a good idea to get to the stalls before the best stuff is gone. In addition to the fact that the fruits and vegetables are no more than one day from the vine so you know dinner will be a feast of freshness, market day is also a feast for the eyes and soul.
There are plants and flowers at the market too and I particularly liked the layout of these at the far north end of the square:
It was raining a week ago Wednesday, one of those light, cool mists that makes everything – food, buildings, sidewalks – look all clean and shiny and new. The first growth of local strawberries was at its peak and you should have been at my house that evening for berries and cream. Wimbledon has nothing on the Bennett household in that regard.
No matter where you turn at the Wednesday market, there are views like this one that make me want to take home everything in sight:
Meanwhile, back at Chez Bennett there is another new pleasure - my small deck garden. The sweet peas - new this year - are just beginning to bloom, the dahlias are growing strong and bright along with about five colors of geranium. I am pleased with a night-blooming phlox I bought at the farmer's market whose tiny flowers, closed up tight during the day, open at dusk wafting out a powerful and exotic fragrance I've never known before.
There a few herbs too: basil for pesto, rosemary for lamb, cilantro for Asian dishes. But you can't see all that in the above photo. I will save them and the miniature Japanese willow for another day along with close-ups of some of the exotic vegetable varieties at the Wednesday market.
[Today at The Elder Storytelling Place Marti tells us about teacher's kindness, even after a classroom transgression, in a story titled Chatterbox.]