Well at least we've had some rain, I thought as I drove up to Grey County early last Sunday, through our third day's dark skies and drizzling rain. I was headed to Elmwood, where the Saugeen Trading Community was having one of its three annual Market Days at the community centre. When I got there, slightly early, the place was already packed and lively.
I shared a table with friends. My offerings were some cookbooks, while they, longtime residents of Grey-Bruce and farmers, had dried shiitake mushrooms, hand-made cards, some young garlic (pungent and potent), hand-carved wooden spatulas (smooth and beautiful, made of maple)...You get the idea. The spring Market Day is a shopper's paradise if you're wanting vigorous healthy starts (I bought several blue tomato plants and some sorrel), home-made baking of various kinds, interesting vintage clothing, books of all kinds, and a lot more that I'm forgetting now. And there's always freshly made food to strengthen you if you flag.
Market Days are also a time to catch up with people, especially precious for me since I am no longer up in Grey County very often. Because it was rainy, we had a big turnout. That may seem counter-intuitive, but in fact after several days of rain, people feel housebound. An outing to see friends is just what they need.
Afterward I went to friends for some great hanging-around time, and supper, and then a sauna. It's wonderful, an instant piece of time-travel for me, to walk into the heated wooden box that is the sauna. There's the smell of hot and slightly wetted pine and cedar, sharp and lingeringly soft too, and smooth textures of wood planks under foot and under the bum as you sit up on a bench. Then there's the sharp intense sensation of hot steam travelling up your nose and hitting your skin, whenever anyone tosses water onto the hot stove. And a hiss and sizzle too.
The cool damp air outside, the trees new-leafed and tall in the forest, the fading light of a long late-spring evening: these too were part of the sauna pleasure.
After a rinse off in cool rainwater, whose chill was refreshing on my heated-to-the-bone body, and a pause to evaporate dry, it was time to get dressed, have a hot tea for the road, and set out for the city. Two and a half hours driving alone late at night can feel lonely I suppose. But I usually have good things to think about, and music to transport me (Haydn's Creation, and Ndjava Vetse, and an international compilation of women singing).
This time there was other company too: the full moon was like a giant headlamp in the sky, silver and radiant, knocking out all possible sightings of stars, making sharp shadows everywhere. Who could drowse off at the wheel under such magnificent stage lighting?
And once back, sometime after midnight, walking up the street from parking the car, I felt I'd been away for several days. Is it really true that I left only this morning? was my thought.
Time, like perception and friendship, and knowledge too, can be so elastic. How wonderful to have it stretched out and extended by a good rich day. And to think that early Sunday morning I might have groaned at the sight of the rain and decided to lie in sluggishly. I'd have missed so much.
A NOTE ABOUT GLOBAL PANTRY: I've started doing a bimonthly column for Cooking Light magazine called Global Pantry. It's about ingredients that people may buy to make a recipe from an unfamiliar cuisine, and then want to incorporate into their cooking. So for example the first column is about fish sauce, with a recipe for using it in guacamole...and with other suggestions for incorporating it into your kitchen reflexes. I find I use fish suace every day for seasoning this or that. Here's the link: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/world-cuisine/other-uses-fish-sauce-00412000075652/