I step outside on an afternoon in September, sunglasses on and shirt sleeves rolled up only to find myself confronted with gray clouds low overhead and a biting wind at my back. I think, for a moment about going back for my coat but my head is still pounding, last night’s mistakes are still roiling in my gut and climbing back up the flight of stairs to my room seems a journey too far. Still, I’m not so bad off that a walk and a bottle of water won’t solve my problems, and so I head for Summertown, a good friend in tow.
This is our Sunday ritual: we rise late, wipe the last remnants of glitter off of our faces and go for lunch in town, usually something cheap but filling, and today was no different. We opted for Taylor’s, a local deli known most notably amongst our friend group for their samosas. I ordered a chicken tikka one, hot as they’d allow.
The first bite is always the best, and the crunch of the fried dough between my teeth, the spiced chicken, peas, potatoes and the thick orange sauce holding it all together felt like heaven on earth. I was almost tempted to order another, but it was nearly one-thirty and there were other things to be done, other purchases to be made. And so, we bid Taylor’s goodbye with the same purse-lipped reluctance with which I had left my bed earlier the same morning and made our way to the farmer’s market across the street.
The weather had not dissuaded the local artisans from selling at the market that day any more than it had dissuaded me from coming to it and the stalls were full of all sorts of wonderful things. In America, our farmers’ markets are few and far between, usually reserved for the chicer of the small southern towns over toward Appalachia and nowhere near the Sandhills, where I live. Still, people weighing vegetables, offering samples and showing what they had created with nothing more than sunlight, water, and a little hope put me in mind of the roadside stands dotted along the East Coast Highway that I’d visited with my grandparents as a child. Hand-painted signs, vegetables stacked in a blue tarp in the bed of a pick-up truck, and the firm handshake my grandfather used to give the vendors all flooded back to my mind and I was struck with an acute sense of nostalgia- and, what’s worse, homesickness. I bought three bell peppers and called it even.