Friday, February 18, 2011

How was Your Winter?

When I first began working at the Union Square Greenmarket, I would hear farmers ask, longabout mid-April, when everyone was returning for the season, “How was your winter?” I like this question for its allusion to the past, to a time when the winter could actually make a huge irrevocable change in the future. Structures collapsed, animals didn’t make it, people died. Things are mostly different now, but farmer’s live closer to the edge than most of us. Their stakes are always higher.

We had a tiny touch of warm weather today, the kind of sunlight-surprise that fills the market with what I (somewhat) lovingly call “Unprofessionals.” People who, bless their hearts, ask, at 10:00am, things like: “Are you going to be here for fifteen more minutes?” And then they never return.

People have difficulty trying to end the brief relationship they enter into with us, mostly by accident. They make promises, they ask questions like “What days are you here, I want to know when I should come back.” But, see, we can tell when you are never going to come back. It’s okay to just say thank you and walk away. Really.

I have a thing: I hate when the weather changes and it’s all people can talk about--the news does a “story” on it, small talk in elevators are ripe with (usually) groaning office workers, and Facebook, which I like, and which has increased the chatter exponentially, lights up with everyone having the same reaction: “Snow!,” and “Snow, yay!” or “So hot outside,” and “Ugh, so hot.” But, today was the kind of day that teaches you just how radical a change in weather can be, how affirming a piece of sun on your hair really is.

Something I think about a lot is how convenient it is that the Earth so matches with our sense of time, space and beauty. I know, right?!?! I really do think about this. Of course it does, we came from the Earth. But, I still find it pretty incredible that what we find most aesthetically pleasing is what there is in the world: vistas, waterfalls, mountaintops. Maybe this seems obvious, but I am still amazed by it. By how well we fit with our planet. (Right now, for the purpose of this idea, we’re opting for naiveté, and not discussing how good we are at destroying it, too.)

I’m also amazed at the earth’s ability to give us what we need when we need it. Today, a glorious, sunwashed day, sixty degrees, after months of--literally--freezing and darkness. Coming right when I felt like I couldn’t take another windy, flat, gray winter Friday, with the city still covered in giant chunks of black, sooty snow, covered in cigarette butts and dog shit. Seriously.

Today was extraordinary, and I know more about “How was your winter” tonight than I did yesterday. No, really. All of this is very, as they say, tree-hugger....and dammit if there isn't something--OMG--spiritual-ish growing somewhere inside me. But that's what I'm talking about. That's what the sun can do. One of the customers, certainly an Unprofessional, remarked: “I didn’t remember how I could be this happy.”

1 comment:

Jason said...

For some reason, the only thing I could think about after reading the first paragraph was playing Oregon Trail.