Wednesday, 30 June 2010

This little piggy went to market...

Well, almost. That is, I did go to market today, but I’m not technically a piggy. In any case, can I tell you about my spree? It was to Calais Farmers’ Market, in our ‘twin town’ just across the border, which only happens in the summer months and so is a rare and wonderful treat. I actually never made it last year, but have been spurred on in the intervening twelve months by a growing commitment to seasonal, local produce, combined with a modest increase in financial resources. I now feel very aware of what a rare and wonderful treat it is to be able to simply throw wallet and passport into my jaunty red Hessian bag, trip over the bridge (now I really am sounding like a little piggy!) into the good ol’ U.S. of A., and be able to choose from a wonderful range of luscious fresh produce from local growers.

So that is what I did today. I was running a little later than I had hoped and planned, and so noticed once in the land of the free and the brave (having very impatiently waited to show my passport at immigration) that my stomach was tied in knots from wishing I was at the market already, being annoyed I wasn’t, and rushing to arrive as soon as I could. But something about seeing the sign for the Calais Waterfront Walk ahead of me, which I rarely get to stroll along in a leisurely fashion, stopped me short and reminded me what a privilege it was to have the time and freedom to wander to market in the sun beside the St Croix River. Thus gratitude unraveled the knots, leaving me consciously present to the still-dewy grass beneath my sandalled feet, the sparkle of sun on water, and the smell of freshly mown lawns mingled with that unmistakable estuary tang. I reflected on how often I am robbed of similar gift-moments, and of being truly present to them, by clinging to some arbitrary timescale I have decided on for equally inconsequential reasons. So the best produce is there for the taking only by the early birds? So what?! Is it really worth developing a peptic ulcer over? I mean, if it were a matter of true significance – whether we ate that evening or not, for example – I would sure as heck have made certain I was there on time! No, on this journey of learning to savour, I would much rather relish my riverside promenade, stop my stomach acids from overproducing, and be thankful for the goods that remain on my happy arrival.

So that is what I did. My first stop was, of course, my friend Karen’s stall, someone whose ways with plants could just (but not quite!) force me to entertain the possibility of a green-fingered gift. With a fairly glistening bunch of her ruby-red beetroots and the lushest young spinach you’ve ever laid your eyes on stashed in my bag, I moved on to another stall where fresh peas and a frilly head of cabbage caught my fancy. As I asked somewhat hesitantly whether it was alright to pay with Canadian dollars, the jovial gent informed me that he would accept them on par since, given a year, the exchange rate would be reversed and (with a glint in his eye) “You’ll be back to buy from me again then, won’t you?!” I assured him with a smile that I would and moved on to peruse the home-baked goods, finally selecting a delicious looking focaccia and some molasses crinkle cookies. Ah, this will make the little piggy that stayed at home very happy! I left the bustling green laden with the fruit of the fertile Maine earth, and also with plans that almost made me want to run (wee, wee, wee!) all the way home: tomorrow, shelling the sugary peas with Amélie in the garden, followed by a meal involving those we manage not to eat in the process, along with delectable roasted beetroot; and today, a rustled-up picnic featuring focaccia and cookies, along with seasalted butter and ‘Seriously Sharp’ Vermont cheddar, fresh green salad, and sliced tomatoes with basil and balsamic vinegar. We could take the picnic to Todd’s Point nature park, lay out our blanket in the shade of the big old silver birches, within earshot of the waves, and eat overlooking the glistening bay.

So that is what we did.


  1. This blog is definitely enticing me to return to St Stephen for the summer experience...

  2. glorious! felt like I joined you (which I would love to do one day soon!)

  3. Thanks for bringing me back to some of the memories i had at the farmer's market in Calais. I still remember buying some really good homegrown shallots and met an interesting lady from Miami who was staying in Calais for the summer.
    I enjoy riding my bike crossing the border for some fresh vege and came back with 'pride' and looking forward how could i use the ingredients in the kitchen.

    The market may not be as versatile as St. Andrew, but I am blessed to have these few committed farmers serving the local community.