As I’d mentioned, it’s our first fall in Maine and it happens to be a strange one.
Usually, by the end of October, the foliage has already peaked and we are well on our way to November – a month of diminished color, the end of which being so anxiety-provoking that we hardy New Englanders cope with it by stress eating.
No, really. It’s time to come clean.
We made up the whole Thanksgiving ‘lets-celebrate-the-indian-pilgrim-feast’. It’s just a ruse to keep the kids busy making funny hats and feather headdresses out of construction paper while we prep the turkeys and pies that we will use to satisfy the bottomless pit of emotional need ginned up by the idea that a world once filled with a flaming riot of joyful color has collapsed into grayscale overnight.
I know. Sorry to burst your bubble. But the good news is that you no longer need to feel badly about the whole colonization of America thing.
We made that up too.
Where was I?
This year has been kind of strange in the autumn department.
Some trees dropped their leaves way back at the beginning of August. This is called ‘Premature (leaf) Ejection’ and is kind of embarrassing to the trees dealing with it.
And then some of the trees, here and there, turned color in early September but instead of dropping their leaves they held onto them for longer than usual, which scientists believe may have something to do with body image.
The bottom line is that fall is really stretching itself out this year, and I am not about to complain about that because we have been pretty busy and haven’t really been paying a whole lot of attention to it.
So yesterday we had a date, and the name of the date was ‘Go Find a Good Farm Stand Because the Farmer’s Market is All Over And We Might Get Scurvy.’
Well, through the miracle that is Google, I found a very cool place that is open all the way through December. They grow everything they sell and they grow and sell a LOT. It is called Beth’s Farm Market.
So we drove there, noticing all the fall colors and scenery along the way. And, when we arrived, the place was hoppin’! There was even a sign for a corn maze in and amongst the bazillion vegetables I could already see. JoHn practically leapt from Gronk*, and then he was waving at me and telling me to grab my camera and laughing, and so I did. This was what he was all excited about:
We knew right then and there…
Was the place.
We wandered past that folding table acting like a sign, in and around more pumpkin and gourd species than I knew were in existence. Every size and shape and color of the vast cucurbitaceae family (Wikipedia) snuggled together in seemingly infinite wooden bins.
Inside there were seas of apples and brussels sprouts on huge stalks and jellies and jams and relishes and even Beth’s own homemade GRAPE JUICE with grapes right in the bottom of the big mason jars holding the purple or white concoctions. Dried beans were nestled near dried fruits and naked blocks of cheese lived under cloches. There were even glass bottles full of fresh cream with a warning sign leaning on them that said “Be careful when whipping, this is so rich that one extra beat and you’ll have butter”.
And in the middle of the store was a fresh apple or blueberry shortcake window. Yes! Like an ice cream window with a counter and everything to order your fresh shortcake!
Oh, I know.
You could even get yours with a side of ice cream if you wanted to.
Also, there were swings outside and one rather friendly calico cat greeting people and acting like a dog.
Needless to say, we became fans of Beth’s Farm Market right then and there and I am so happy that Beth made a farm and grows all that stuff and makes all that stuff and sells all that stuff.
I don’t even care that she must be very tired, doing all that, because I just want all the things. Beth’s exhaustion is my gain.
When we were leaving, with some rather heavily laden paper sacks, I turned to wait for JoHn to put the little cart away and spied another sign. This one was about dogs.
I cannot explain the intensity of the feelings that washed over me as I read Vince Ahlholm’s carefully worded letter to his customers, explaining – in such exquisite detail, the important issue of ‘dog crap’ and fruit contamination via soiled boots and ladders.
But, more importantly, were the evidence at the bottom of the note.
Vincent wrote his name – first and last.
Then he signed his name, right out loud like John Hancock, and included his job description – ‘Pres.’ – taking all responsibility for the prevention of death by bacteria.
I do not know his age, but by all that is represented in his words, script, and demeanor – including his obvious love of dogs – Vince Ahlholm is an Old Yankee Man. I’ll bet he’s even dated that note, probably on the back. In sharpie.
I am a sucker for Old Yankee Men. Always have been.
For me, this note was a siren song. Something more powerful than any of Jean-Paul Sartre’s letters to Simone de Beauvoir.
There really was nothing JoHn could do but shrug. He’s been down this road before.
Coming back to this place was suddenly about so much more than spaghetti squash.
Thanks for readin’.
*Gronk is my beloved truck.
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