I walked over so many flowers today. Not on purpose or anything. I didn’t even realize it until my walk was almost over.
Two weeks ago I walked almost the same route. The little tree that had been catnip to a love-crazed butterfly has since been pruned, and no flitting yellow friends were visiting it today.
I love the corner fruit stand. It seems to be expanding. Today there was a simple display outside offering bright mangoes, pineapples, watermelons, and – an oddity – two large squashes that resembled fairytale pumpkins. Once I bought some fresh cut fruit from the old couple inside, and they sprinkled on Pico De Gallo. My mouth watered at the thought, but I pressed on today.
Last time I went to this farmers market, I was excited to discover a free Zumba class a couple blocks away in a weathered church facility. I noted a time I might be able to make: 9:30 on Saturdays, and made a mental note to try it sometime. Today there was a posted note, and in my lacking Spanish ability it seems there won’t be any Zumba until after July 16. Good thing I forgot this morning.
My tummy rumbled, and I noted my late breakfast options. Vegan delights, savory bacon-wrapped hot dogs (I quickened my pace), crepes… A few people were gathered around a cheese vendor. I turned off my iPod and asked for an option that would go with a salad I’ll make later.
Oh, cheese. Lovely, lovely cheese. I asked the couple if I could stay with them and taste their samples all day. I finally selected a creamy, crumble-able goat variety. All the way from France, and it was $5.30.
I knew there were leafy greens for sale in the back corner, so headed there and asked for a “huge salad” amount. She carefully selected more than I expected and charged me three dollars. I decided to add some lemon basil ($2 more) and she threw in a few slender greens, saying they were garlic chives and I should chop them in, too. I kind of want to adopt her as a San Diego great aunt.
I decided against food an instead opted for a large glass of fresh squeezed juice. Orange, lemon, strawberry, with decorative cut strawberries in the bottom. It was more than I hoped, $5, but I had adored the little girl selling it on my last trip and I always feel bad for the booths that receive less attention. “That’s my daughter. She’ll be here with me next week.”
I went to visit my other favorite little girl at the market. Brown eyes, long tangly black hair. She always finds me a couple of her Papa’s green eggs if I ask. Two dozen today. I’m going camping next weekend and in charge of group breakfast Saturday morning. “Papa” gave me a dollar discount.
The sun peeked out as I slowly wandered away from the market. A few streets over, I followed a woman walking her pet pig. Penelope’s large nose was even more curious than that of her little dog friend walking beside her. I think she was smelling the flowers on the sidewalk.
I stopped watching smiling Penelope and noticed a rooftop produce garden. I was almost as fascinated by the old building and its peeling siding as the charming garden atop it. It could belong in Maine, except that where I’m from people have enough land for gardens and flat roofs don’t work in the winter. Imagine shoveling your roof after every big storm.
But that’s a silly thought for San Diego.
I wandered back past the butterfly tree, and noticed I’m taller than it now. I suppose it needed the pruning. Thank goodness it’s not because I’ve grown.
I stopped for a moment to read the scrolling prose, three or four stories up near the roof of an apartment building. I can only read a few words at a time, and I always want to rush it and feel a little desperate that I’ll miss some earth-shattering gem of wisdom.
Someday I’ll take a chair, no matter how conspicuous, and sit and read the free-flowing musings to my heart’s content. Today’s was about the invisible poor, the respect shown by extending trust and responsibility, and the joy of deadlines.
I kept walking, final block, and finally really noticed how many lovely little flower petals were decorating the ground. They didn’t seem to mind that some of them were being trampled. They seemed happy to have lived, treetop, smiling at the sun, then drifting lightly to their resting place, having fulfilled their brief purpose.
A shirtless, diapered little girl stood on the back of her bone-straight, silver-haired grandmother’s parked truck. I smiled and was warmly received. I stopped short after having walked by the two, daring interrupt their little world.
“May I let her smell this lemon basil?” (Gosh, I’m so crazy right now. Sara, you don’t give food to strangers’ kids!)
She smiled affirmatively, so I held out the little leaf and said, “Sniff it!” The grubby little girl, all smiles and trust and play made a sniffing noise. “Want to hold it?” She took it and sniffed and giggled.
“You can eat it,” came the voice behind me. The little girl looked confused, so I broke off a tiny piece and ate it, and gave it back. She nibbled a piece and grinned her impossibly cute grin. The lady and I thanked each other.
I had to leave while I was ahead and before I could do anything else unpredictable and potentially embarrassing, like show them the little flowers all over the sidewalk for the sheer joy of watching the baby walk on them with her pudgy little naked feet.
Maybe they’re still out there…