This is the first time I have been to my local farmer's market in months, simply due to busy weekend plans. I have been looking forward to this Sunday opportunity all week. I am surprised to notice my bodily reaction as I finally arrive at my anticipated destination. The sight of piles of fresh green beans and barrels of awkwardly-shaped eggplants spilling over stops my breath in my chest. I feel my feet grounded to the earth and I have the urge to roll in the tomatoes (I don't). I hear the bluegrass band harmonica wafting from the other side of the market, and a little girl with huge eyes hurls a grimy hand blindly up to a table above her head to swipe a cucumber. I smile and hug myself a bit in the chilly, early Autumn air.
Perhaps my feeling of wildness actually comes from the knowledge that I am right in the middle of un-wild suburbia. Something feels slightly rebellious about these "blemished" apples and thin, crooked carrots. As if the carrot is jabbing itself out into the world with a "Take that, produce section! I will NOT grow perfectly round and fat for you! These are my curves and divots and I love them."
Or take, for instance, these crazy things:
He replied, "Paw-paws. They are a local fruit that Native Americans used to grow." His eyes glinted and he picked one up to show me. "Feel this." I do. "See how soft it is?" I nod. "This one will taste like vanilla custard." He closes his eyes for a moment as if lost in a private fantasy. I shift a bit uneasily, waiting for him to return to me. His eyes pop open. "You just slice the skin open and let it slip off gently. Then scoop out the line of seeds and eat the rest with a spoon." He presents it to me like a treasured gift that he has made just for me. I take it.
"How come I've never seen them at the supermarket?" I ask, a little worried that this might be a stupid question.
He laughs. "You'll never see these at Safeway! They don't ship well. Best to just pluck them off the tree and let them get soft on your kitchen table for a few days."
And that is when I get that familiar, chest-tingly feeling of wildness - the same one I get when I have an unexpected wildlife encounter in the forest; like I am in the presence of something holy. This fruit is all about the moment. Nevermind shipping across the world like bananas or mangoes. This round, squishy teacher forces us to eat her right where she grew. She refuses to have it any other way.
Go on with your wild self, you crazy paw-paw you!