and we bought homemade rhubarb candies.
The south Anchorage Farmer’s market ends for the season today. Carrots, beets, Brussels sprouts, potatoes are piled high and steeply discounted. The stacks of giant lettuces, kales, cabbages – grown to monstrous size in the sunny, long Alaskan summer days – are shrinking fast. Everyone is desperate to get fresh greens because in a few short weeks the only options will be limp and pale lettuce masses, stacked like wet laundry in grocery store fluorescent light.
There’s an announcement. The live entertainment, a guitar playing local man named Wayne, is moving out of state. He’ll play the farmer’s market no more. “Please sign the sweatshirt we are gifting to him in thanks,” the organizer said over the microphone. I sauntered over to the signing table.
A little black lab puppy sat at my feet, staring up at me with love in his eyes. A nervy wolfhound slunk past behind us. Later, a trio of sweatered Chihuahuas pranced 12 tiny feet around their boss lady as she selected potatoes. I crouched down to say hi and the little guy wearing a squirrel sweater half climbed into my lap. “Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi,” he said, sniffing the dried fish skin treats I bought to take home to Hamish and Miss Tibbit. His absurdly small paw prints looked like dog art down the side of my pants.
My WideEyedFriends and I stood gazing at the fish offerings. “Harvested from the Situk River,” said the sign on the coho salmon bin. “Where’s the Situk River?” WideEyedFriendD asked. “In Alaska,” the fishmonger told her, laughing. We watched the fresh pasta man slice our spinach linguini to order.
My rented Dodge Charger will haul me to the airport in a few hours – hopefully with a little muscle car kick but it is a pony version so it only has so much to give. I’ll leave behind the spicy scent of spruce forest and head back into the city stink of the industrial northeast. When I get off the plane back there, I’ll take a nice, deep breath of sooty air and feel at home.