After spending the last third of my life intimately involved with the working and knowledge of a farmers market, it really rang a bell when the subject of one was suggested at my writing group this week. Surely I would have a lot of memories of something that took over my life for such a long period of time. I can remember vividly what it was like to sort apples, peaches, pears, cherries, plums, and especially apricots. When it came to apples, we raised 25 different varieties over the season. At most any time we would have 8-10 kinds on our tables. And they were all carefully placed in quart boxes and half peck, peck, or half bushel baskets. As the people came pouring thru the market buying them, we would try to quickly refill the containers all the while waiting on other customers. We brought about 250 half bushels in to the market in our reconditioned older beer truck. But before they got there I had already been sorting many of them from huge 20 bushel boxes at home the day before. Bob picked apples in half bushel baskets with a picking strap every other day. Also he picked the many other fruits. We were a busy family, three days at the market, three and a half on the farm. There were also many pickers picking in 20 bushel boxes for the local growers who processed them for the national market.
One of the things we were famous for is that we graded all of the fruit very carefully so consequently we would have quite a bit of “seconds” to sell at reduced prices. One of our special helpers, Carol, took over that department. People flocked to her for advice on how to cook everything. They would wait in line to talk to her when she was busy. A retired nurse, she was an expert at helping people. All of our nine workers felt it was their job to please our customers in every way they could. To this day I believe that our great success was a direct result of all of our helpers working as a family.
Bobs family and he had been going to the market in Muskegon since 1936. After Bob was married, his children often went to market with their grandpa and sold fruit themselves. Later on our grandchildren took turns working on the farm and going to market. Our son Gary worked with us for many years. It was a very productive life and only when life interfered and we became older did things have to change for all of us.
But I have very fond memories of it. And some that I put away safely in the back of my mind. The mornings in November and December when we arrived in the dark so early in the morning. The gloves that we were wearing as we were sorting the cold apples, the wind blowing off of Muskegon Lake, the lack of customers on a cold and rainy day, and yet, there we were with the fruit we had promised. The coveralls, boots, gloves, hats, raincoats, all a necessary part of our days.
And the beautiful sunshiny warm days when 5000 people would show up, exchanging smiles and hugs with people who were so happy to see us. That made it all worthwhile. Going home with an empty big truck, after having taken in extra fruit in both the pickup and the car. All of it seems like a dream now, but it is a happy dream. We went to the Farmers Market, we made people smile, and what could be more satisfying than that!
Its a cool January morning, cool for Florida, that is, and I am curled up with my IPad. So I decide that I might as well go thru my normal routine, play a few games, just to keep my brain in working order. I have this theory that if I play some word games like Sudoku or Solitaire each day that I will manipulate my thoughts into believing that I am just as sharp as I ever was. I prided myself upon a fantastic memory when I was in my 20’s and 30’s and I actually would run tests upon myself to prove how good at it I was. My children got the benefit of my memory of their misdeeds as they grew up.
Alas, enter the later stages of my life. The children are grown and gone, in fact so are their children. I now am in the stage of my life where I play games of all descriptions. This morning I decided to redownload a game of Candy Crush with Friends, one that I hadn’t played in several years. I had gotten bored with my regular puzzles and wanted something different. Well, I found something different alright. I was playing it thru Facebook, and guess what! Now I know what all of my friends are playing – Candy Crush. I saw my sisters names, my brother and sister in laws, my cousins, my nieces and nephews, my grandchildren, friends from my writing group, friends from church and the neighborhood, in fact it seems like practically every one I ever knew.
That does it! Here I had been feeling guilty because I was using my precious time playing some silly games! Now that I know that we are all just working on improving our memory and mind, I feel a lot better. You see, these players weren’t all just seniors, they are all ages. We are all getting smarter together. Isn’t that great? I do love my IPad!
It seems like I am rubbing your nose in it for me to write about walking again for the second time in a row. Sorry about that, I just can’t resist.
We just got back from a walk around one of our favorite ponds. The weather has cooled off a bit and it is only 72 degrees at 2PM. The sun is shining, the paths in the park are filled with walkers of all descriptions, many of them walking their dogs, still others giving them rides in the golf carts. Everyone seems very friendly today, with waves and smiles galore. Out on the golf course we can see players swinging their clubs in every direction.
But the main thing is, getting to enjoy the many birds everywhere. Such a variety of ducks, egrets, swans, even blackbirds, all lying in the sun, preening themselves, keeping a sharp eye in each direction. I couldn’t resist taking so many pictures, knowing I can delete some of them later. The birds are not afraid of us, although some are more cautious than others. We have had a lot of rain lately and the ponds are full. To watch the birds swimming and diving gives me such pleasure, and I am thankful again that we can live in this beautiful place.
Thanks again for reading. Hope your day is filled with thankfulness for our amazing world, no matter where you are.
Saturday night, here in the park, seems like it is the Fourth of July. But it’s not, of course, it’s December 29th, on a warm and muggy day all right just like the song was in Chicago or New York. We’re waiting a little while to take our evening walk, at least after the needle drops below 80 degrees. And of course, we are here in Florida. We’ve had a cooler and wetter December this year and I’ve heard lots of grumbles about that, so now it is time for the smiles to reappear.
When we went last night there were bicycles darting around us, and of course the golf carts were in full force. We are one of the few people who don’t have one, and every once in a while I think about how much fun it would be to ride about the park. Then Bob reminds me that if we did get one it would become so easy to overlook our daily walks. And we both need to walk and we know that. So we don’t get one but still the thoughts seem to persist. Many people take their dogs for a ride every night also and they often stop to show them off. I have this feeling that they think we are just old fogies, and they are probably right.
It’s cooled down a bit while I’ve been writing so I guess it is time to walk. It’s dark now and there are many distinctive Christmas lights on our streets for us to enjoy. I wish you were all in a nice warm place walking too, but relax, your time will come eventually. In the meantime, enjoy your wintertime and we will see you soon.
Sometimes we get a suggestion from our writing class that sends sparks flying into our fingers and bringing forth new ideas that just seem to fit perfectly. That is what happened to me this morning.
How about when our roles as a parent just seem to become reversed with our adult children? It seems to be ingrained into our very being that we ourselves are the one who gives advice, who knows just what needs to be done, and after all, we have been practicing on our kids for many years. We hope that we have taught them the difference between right and wrong, the need to be fair in their dealings, yet show empathy for people in need, and we feel that we have generally tried our best. But we are not always around them in their daily lives, and so we really just hope for the best as they go forward. “Train a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it.”
But we don’t always know for sure. It takes a special situation to come up in order for us to stop, listen, and realize that our fears have been for nothing, that the children have exceeded our hopes, and now it is our turn to listen and watch as they begin to play the new roles with their children and their working lives. While I once played the role of the parent trying to take care of them, now it has been reversed, and they are showing me that we have been successful and they have learned that it is their turn to show affection and caring to others.
There is nothing that could please a parent more than to know that it is their turn to be the object of someone’s affection. To hear your adult child as he or she accepts the mantle of adulthood for themselves and for others is to know that you have done your job to the best you knew how at the time. When the child now wants to know how you are, instead of the other way around, you know that the rules have changed. You have relinquished the reins of parenthood to your family, in a small way, and they are willing and happy to take them up for you.
So relax, enjoy it. You have earned it over the many years when you had those sleepless nights when they came home way too late, or forgot to call instead. You have the living proof of grown adults, loving you and concerned for your wellbeing, but also busy making life happy for their own families. After all, that is what you wanted to accomplish and you have actually done it.
Apples and People. Or is it People and Apples? Is it true that both of them have a lot in common with each other? I’ve been thinking about that this week and here is what I have come up with.
We all know that there are a lot of different kinds of apples, hundreds of varieties to be exact. When we were growing fruit on our farm we had 25 different kinds, and Bob could sprout off every one of them when someone asked him. There were green, red, yellow ones, some were a mixture, and then there were sweet ones, sour ones, pie apples, applesauce ones. At some time they even became cider ones when they became very ripe. But they all were an apple, they all had seeds and they all had a core upon which they grew. In their lifetime they gave a lot of pleasure to anyone lucky enough to be given one.
Now you take people. There certainly are a lot of different kinds of people, aren’t they? As many different colors as anyone can imagine, and they have as many different uses as we can even count. Each one of us can give great pleasure to all who are a part of our life. But we too are all a person, we all have the seeds of life, and we all have a core, the core or the spirit of life.
As a child we sang, “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight.” Surely we can remember that all living things whether it is apples or it is people, we all have a core, a spirit, and we can recognize each others sameness together.
Rising this morning I was saddened but not surprised to hear that President George HW Bush had left this earth, leaving behind a vast history of service to his country and to his family for many years. Pouring my coffee, I curled into my chair and watched the television coverage of his life and his many accomplishments. The many news clips seemed to be a reflection of my own experiences in life and I became engrossed in the old films. They brought back many memories of my own during a very tumultuous time in the history of our country. I had been living in the mountains of Colorado when he was the vice president of the United States.
But that was a long time ago and I don’t normally look back for very long, because I do believe that all we have is right now. I was about to change the channel when I saw a film clip of the President made after he had just successfully jumped from an airplane at the advanced age of 85. He was smiling at the joy of it, and encouraging anyone watching him to get out of their chair and do whatever would make them happy. Later on at the age of 90 years he did it again.
Suddenly it struck me that he was only one year older than I when he made this statement. Anyone of my age usually realizes that we are getting older but we put a polite face on it when we are thinking of ourselves. At that very moment of my own age I had my own special realization that I too was at that advanced age. And if there is something that makes me happy that I haven’t done yet, it is time to get started.
And yet, I can not think of anything that I really yearned to do but missed out on, that is that important to me right now. I wish it were as easy to travel now as it once was, but there are so many memories. The pictures on the screensaver bring back all of the fun times, the exploring times, and I hope that they are never taken away from me. Pictures of all of our family are everywhere, news of their exploits fill my Ipad daily, and I wake up each morning looking forward to a new experience but still enjoying the ones I remember from the past.
So as you see the pictures on television this week, I hope you will take to your heart the words that President Bush had for us all. “Forget your age, do what makes you happy, and you will be filled with joy.”