When I was little, I used to love going to the Market with Daddy. My brothers and I always fought over how many times we could go to the Market. Our time was limited because our Saturday Japanese School didn’t end for the summer until well into regular school’s summer vacation.
I don’t know when we kids first went to the Evanston Farmers’ Market. Old pictures prove that our whole family went to the Market when I was about 5 years old, but that might not have been my first time there. To me, it seems like I have been going there forever. There is no start; no end to be seen.
The last time I went to help Daddy at the Market was a couple weeks ago. The Friday harvest that week produced loads and loads of tomatoes and lettuce.
Saturday morning Mommy woke me up at 1 a.m. Daddy wasn’t up yet. There was an unexplainable sensation in the pit of my stomach and for some reason I felt guilty, like someone was going to pop out at me and yell, “Hey, why are you up? Can’t you see it’s pitch dark outside?”
I grabbed my pillow and walked to the kitchen. An overwhelming aroma of brewing coffee greeted me. I set my pillow down by the door, and went into the bathroom. As I was brushing my teeth, Daddy woke up. “Ohayo (Good Morning)!” I said, and he smiled at me.
We wasted no time getting ready, and before I knew it I was in the Big Truck, waving goodbye to Mommy. “Be careful!” she told us.
At nighttime, everything looks strange and unfamiliar. Without the sun shining down, our house looked so eerie and dark. That guilty feeling was back, this time packed in with a little bit of excitement–it seemed like we were sneaking out!
We drove first to the Trailer where we picked up Courtney, who is our full-time intern, and who was helping us at the Market. After that, it was sleeping time. I put my pillow on Daddy’s shoulder and leaned against him, reminding me of how I used to put my pillow on his lap when I was little.
There are three seats in the Big Truck, the driver’s seat (Daddy’s), the middle seat, and the window seat. I always seem to get stuck in the middle. Being in the middle is, in my opinion, a huge pain because you feel surrounded and you get no fresh air. Also, if your little brother is so into the depths of Dreamland that he is unresponsive, and if he falls on top of you and you have to push him up again, only to have him fall on you again after a couple seconds, yes, it is a huge inconvenience. (Though it was kind of funny and cute at the time.) Remembering this, I wrapped my blanket around me and closed my eyes, lured to sleep by the rumbling sound of the engine.
I slept surprisingly well and when I finally opened my eyes we were already in Chicago. Soon we saw a lit-up sign reading: ‘Dunkin Donuts,’ and we pulled in. This is a tradition of the Market-goers. We always stop at Dunkin Donuts to ready ourselves in the bathroom and then have a donut. I got out of the bathroom first and studied the choices: Chocolate Long Johns, Bavarian Crème, Sprinkles…the list went on. I get only one donut, so the choice was therefore a very big deal.
Long ago I used to go the Market solely because I got to eat a donut. That was how important the donuts were to me. Once Daddy told me that when I would come home from the Market, Grandma would ask me if I had fun and what I did, and I would answer proudly, “I had a donut!” Remembering this, I finally made up my mind and chose the Long John.
We were very close to the Market at this point. In the short time before we got there, Daddy filled us in with the prices he had set for all the vegetables we’d soon be selling. I tried to take it all in, but the sugary Donut Magic hadn’t worked itself into my mind quite yet.
We pulled into the parking lot. It looked so bare and lonesome compared to the bustling farmers’ market it would transform itself into. As Daddy, Courtney and I unstrapped our seatbelts I said, “We can do this!” and Daddy laughed.
One by one our market helpers showed up. It was about 4 in the morning, and they had valiantly dragged themselves out of bed before the crack of dawn. We set up tents and unloaded the truck. Making all the veggies look beautiful in displays takes time, but by 6 a.m. we were ready for customers.
Because i come from a rural community out in who-knows-where, I can never get used to the number of people that shop at our market stand. Almost everyone I see is a complete stranger. Yet I feel safe and friendly with them. I feel close to people who appreciate the tomatoes my family planted, weeded, mulched and harvested. Watching Daddy talk and laugh with customers, I long to talk and laugh with them, too. And I know, someday I will.