Cathy Eads, of Atlanta, affirms her faith at a common gathering spot. If you would like to submit a post to Clearing the Fog, please contact us here.
In the midst of the chaos, I pause to celebrate the wonder of the local farmer’s market.
Most communities have one. I am fortunate to have a handful to choose from. Two set up shop less than three miles from my house weekly—one on Sunday mornings and one on Wednesday evenings—so I am quite blessed in this department.
When I need a dose of hope for humanity, the farmer’s market always serves it up bountifully.
Here my neighbors and I can meet the people who plant the seeds, till the soil, pull the weeds, and harvest the produce they pack up each week to haul to the market where we share small talk and smiles as I make my selections. Nature shows off her miraculous skill of generating prolific amounts of food from tiny seeds in the rainbow array of kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, okra, eggplant, lettuces, beets, cucumbers, green beans, melons, tomatoes, peaches, and more filling the market tables.
I stop in front of the fresh flower vendor’s booth as my eyes roam the bouquets in awe and I silently praise Mother Nature for providing this kaleidoscope of arrangements I can choose from to take home and call my own. Of course, the vendor uses her talents to pull together the perfect combination of colorful blooms to complement one another, but the good green Earth provided her the palette to begin with.
Other farmers may offer freshly laid eggs from the feathery hens they feed, house, and tend on their farms, or meat from the livestock they sustain. Still others put out honey, jams, or products made from the raw ingredients their farms provide. Some even cook up freshly made foods we can enjoy gobbling up on the spot.
The world just seems righter when I can buy my food directly from the people who facilitated the growth and harvest of it. I can transact business with no one in the middle—just my dollars going straight to the good people that did the work to get it to my hands.
Now, I could be biased because I grew up on a farm and, often, we had a garden full of tomatoes, sweet corn, sometimes watermelons, potatoes, green beans, or carrots. I remember gardening as a chore that brought me no pleasure whatsoever. But boy did I love consuming the deliciousness from my own back yard. Nothing matches sinking my teeth into the shiny plump kernels on an ear of steaming sweet corn, slathered in butter, on a hot July evening, or a juicy mouthful of perfectly ripened tomato still warm from the summer heat, sliced generously, and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Moving to the suburbs of Atlanta as an adult, I tried to recapture a bit of that delight by planting strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries in my back yard. I had to rig up some netting so the incredibly entitled birds would not consume *all* the berries before I got to them, but it was worth the hassle. I experienced a unique type of joy when picking berries off the bushes around my home and popping their sun-warmed succulence directly in my mouth.
There is much trouble around us, and yet so much goodness, too. A trip to the farmer’s market reminds me of that. I can chat face-to-face with my local food producers. I’m supporting the local economy and a well-balanced diet. And I’m also boosting my faith that various members of the human race can coexist in peace and harmony, with respectful give and take, just as the farmers do with their land and livestock, and as we all do in the microcosm of the market. At this moment in time, I need as many reminders of that possibility as I can find.
It’s our nation’s Independence Day, and yet, like many, I feel no desire to celebrate.
After the week that was, I’m not sure I recognize our country. Rights and protections we thought were secure, if precedent held, have been obliterated. Pregnant women and medical staff in some states worry they may be prosecuted. Gun safety laws in place for 100 years vanished overnight. The clear line separating church and state evaporated.
And the EPA no longer has the authority to regulate businesses that willfully pollute our air and water for profit.
This same week we learned that the President of the United States belligerently demanded to be taken to the Capitol during a violent assault on our nation’s governing body so he could confront his mortal enemy, his hand-picked Vice President.
What country is this? It’s not one I want to celebrate.
Two friends commented recently that they see hope in our youngest adults. Perhaps I need to find some Gen Z friends. I realized this weekend that I have no confidence that the direction this country is headed can be altered in my lifetime. The shift away from democracy toward one-party minority rule seems inexorable.
I’ve never wanted to live a particularly long life. I don’t want to be the last of my friends and family left on this earth. But it may take the years required for me to reach 100 before this country can heal. Assuming there is still a planet able to support us.
If you were looking here today for a sunny holiday post, I apologize. This weekend I spent time outdoors actively searching for a brighter outlook. On Sunday I found a beautiful Kentucky summer day—moderate temperatures, mild humidity, a bright blue sky, and a fresh breeze—but I did not find hope.