1. The Farmer's Market
The West Tennessee Farmer's Market is open every day except Sunday. It's huge. It has every imaginable specimen of in-season produce. It's ridiculously inexpensive. I feel guilty leaving with the basket of Joshua's stroller overflowing, having only spent $10, but I'll get over it. And I just feel healthier sitting down to dinner with a plate of locally-grown fruits and vegatables. Not to mention that everything tastes so good. My cousin David, who, as far as I know has never eaten a vegatable other than a green bean, took a second helping of yellow squash at dinner the other night. If that isn't a testimonial to yummy produce, I don't know what is. Our first trip was on a Tuesday. It seemed pretty busy for a weekday, but on Saturday it's just bursting at the seams. And on Saturday, the Amish farmers come with their real butter (two ingredients: cream and salt), fresh eggs, fresh milk, and real ice cream (Dr. Atkins won't mind that Jay and I split a pint of vanilla on the way home the other day, will he?) It's sounds cheesy, but I just feel lucky that I can get fresh, local food and support my neighbors who make a living this way. Yum.
Jay and I have never had neighbors quite like these before. In fact, the only place we've lived where we even knew our neighbors was in California, and we weren't exactly pals with them. Our relationship consisted of a nod or wave if we happened to be outside at the same time. Now we have real neighbors. We've had two loads of home-grown vegetables, bread, and preserves delivered to our door by two different sets of neighbors, and yesterday while Josh and I were out for a stroll we had another loaf of banana bread forced upon us. One neighbor, upon seeing Jay mow part of the yard with a push mower, came to the door with an offer to use his riding mower. Another neighbor called Jay the other night to invite him to a pick-up softball game at his church. It's just so friendly! And so...neighborly! It makes me feel much better about being at home all day with Joshua since I know that, most likely, someone is going to be around (most of our neighbors are retired) if I need them.
3. Free Stuff
I had a flat tire the other day. Jay took it to a random place to get it fixed. When it was done, the proprieter said, "Jay, come back and see me some time." Jay said, "What do I owe you?" He said, "Come back and see me some time."
I bought a pound of green beans from my favorite produce lady at the Farmer's Market. After I'd paid, she went to her truck and got 5 new potatoes, stuck them in my bag, and suggested that I cook them with the green beans.
I went to another lady at the Farmer's Market to buy a head of cabbage. She also had white eggplant, which Jay wanted me to try. I asked if I could have just one or if I needed to buy the whole box. Her response, "Why don't I just give you one, you know, between you, me, and the fencepost."
OK, so it's not the free stuff, and I'm not naive enough to believe that all this generosity has nothing to do with business and marketing, but it seems that folks are more concerned about the relationship that the bottom line. I like that.