TThis is the second week of the farmers' market, a day to separate the produce friends from the fanatics, as the rain poured down in a 38 degree chill. Everyone had these conspiratorial smiles on their faces as they sought out their spinach and leeks, sharing in each others' giddy stubbornness in refusing to let the weather keep us from our Saturday fix. The veggies seemed happy enough, and we got our first rapturous glimpses of rhubarb and asparagus amidst the onions, roots, and greens.
Drenched to the core, I felt like a golden retriever at the beach as I shook my soaked hair before I raised my camera, wrapped in a plastic bag, to snap shots of the day. Note to self: Jackets with hoods are NECESSARY. A playful feeling shocked through the small crowd - we gave up caring about our appearance and became kids, jumping in puddles, drinking apple juice from the jug, and eating chocolate covered mint patties fresh from the mint farm. The smell of the smoke from Mark Doxtader's Tastebuds pizza and bagel brick-oven made the whole scene feel like a camping trip, as we took every chance we could get to huddle together under tent coverings. That being said, I can't remember a campfire ever producing bacon and leek pizza with the best crust in the Northwest.
By noon, the lines for Pine State Biscuits were still shockingly short, and those for the coffee carts wound their way beneath vendor awnings and oversized umbrellas. Everyone seemed to have the same thought on their minds - holding a hot cup of caffeine is the only way to make this bearable. As I reached into my pockets to pull out the requisite $1.25, my hands were so cold they could hardly muster the dexterity to search for coinage - so the Funky Monkey baristas (cart-istas? vendristas? Addiction Pushers?) got their tip and then some. As I filled up my cup with french press brew, topped off with Norris' Dairy cream, I couldn't help but whisper, "Damn, I love this town."
A snapshot of my love affair with this city: Coffee in my hand, Leeks, cabbage, goat cheese, fresh made noodles, scallions, cilantro, and steamer clams from the coast in my backpack, babies bundled up with bearded, tattooed daddies holding umbrellas while they eat freshly made artichoke tamales, bluegrass music wafting over the sounds of water pouring off tented produce stands, and the farmers who brave this weather all week to bring it to the heart of a big city that thinks it's a small town.
A huge pool of water escapes from the awning above me, lands on my head, and as I start shivering, I take another sip of my coffee, wipe off my poor, abused camera, and laugh - this is what it's all about. The weathermen have pointed to rain every day for the foreseeable future, and we'll be smiling our way through it. A few weeks ago, Business Week named Portland, Oregon the Unhappiest City in America. Looking around this morning, I have to say they were quite mistaken. They obviously haven't been to our farmers market at the beginning of Spring.
I love you Portland. Eat well.