Recently I have been going to our local markets again, after years of being away from them. The Tabulam Farmer’s Market is much more to me than a way to make a bit of extra cash from my hobbies (I actually don’t sell a lot of stuff); it is a place I enjoy going. I like to be at home, I enjoy my own company and I definitely don’t like crowds, but for some reason I feel at home here.
It is hard to describe the relationship I have with markets; on one hand there is the early starts (even earlier than my usual start), the weeks of making stuff to sell and having to fit a shelter and tables and other decorative stuff into my car with the little box of actual stock to sell. On the other hand there is the feeling of belonging; the lovely ‘in’ feeling of being there, where I know so many people and they know me (I don’t get that often). The joy of watching the very special ‘pop up’ community that develops.
Early in the morning, when everyone is setting up tents and tables, I watch stall holders rush to help each other set up tents or supply pens, tags, cloths or any number of small items forgotten by other stall holders. I watch as people share a morning coffee from the coffee stall, or from a thermos packed for the occasion. When friends and strangers greet each other with smiles and encouraging words. The musicians start up and everyone can have a go at the open mic’; men, women, kids (and every now and then a dog joins in). Later in the day I watch as kids run wild between the stalls while parents and other adults look on happily allowing them to indulge in childhood adventures. Customers browse slowly among the wares and are greeted with smiles and conversation (whether they are buying or just looking). Conversations bloom and drift like mist among the gathered people, never really finishing but spiraling out to encompass others. Deals are struck and arrangements made in fleeting meetings carried out in passing. At the end of the day, some unseen signal is given and stalls begin to pack up, everyone lends a hand getting stock and tents packed and stashed in cars. Until the market area is still and silent once again.
Community markets are a great way to meet people and make friends. I am not a very social person in the normal scheme of things, but I do enjoy the magic of markets. Maybe I should go to more of them.