June 11, 2010

Ohhhh Fabulous Spring

In a previous post I rattled on about how happy I was that spring had arrived. I call myself cold-blooded because I’m always cold and so I thrive in the warm temperatures. I hibernate all winter, but once the temperatures begin to climb, I’m out and about. In early spring I was in the Byward Market and was pleased to see the stalls up and vendors making their way back for another season. The market seems to come alive once the vendors set themselves up; almost a rejuvenation. Ours, the Parkdale Market, opened May 8th and I was waiting with anticipation. It closed much earlier last year due to construction in the park and market area. It saddens me when the markets close up, making me realize that fall has definitely come and winter isn’t too far off. But when they open I revel in their bounty.

At the Parkdale Martket we’ve got our favourite vendors; those for flowers,


and food.

We’ve got our routine down. Browse all the way to the end of the block, then decide what we want to pick up and compare with what we want and need, and what’s on the list. Last year I was impressed with the number of small vendors who arrived with what I would call ‘heritage varieties’. Yellow beets, purple carrots, and the sort. While many people think they are new and genetically modified, the majority are natural and just as old, or older, than the everyday variety. I would linger and look, but I never picked any up, but this year I will. I love the market. I love that things are grown in the area I live and support those who work that land.

As a child my mom would take me to the market with her. Seeing this area of downtown Galt alive on a Saturday morning was quite the contrast to the empty building I would pass during the week. We’d pick up some fruit and vegetables, lunchmeat, and blocks of cheese. But my most favourite thing was the honey vendor, with their jars of honey – some with the honeycomb in it - and the Billy Bee bear squeeze bottle. When I became a teenager and had a Saturday morning off work we would venture to St Jacobs and stroll around the farmers market. As I got older I could understand why my mother went there; it was cheaper than the grocery store. And that’s what lured me to the Byward Market when I moved to Ottawa. At that time, it was a bonus that it was local, but as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more important. These are local people making a living by living off their land. And many are like the Honey’s family, and have lived off the same land for generations.

The products I find at the market have usually been picked within 48 hours. The colours are vibrant and the aroma is amazing. Who knew fresh lettuce could spell like a fresh rainfall. Sometimes the cucumbers and zucchini have some tips left on them. And bins of asparagus, tubs of berries, and tubs of cut herbs allow your mind to wander with the possibilities for dinner. At times I get out of control and buy too much as it all looks so delicious. It’s a challenge to control myself, but I manage knowing that it gives me an excuse to come back sooner.


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