Farmers' Markets & Local Bounty

Many times this year as I've observed–carefully, gratefully–the emergence of color from the small spears and buds and new grass through the parade of flowers marching past thus far, I've thought about how the gift given by New England's spring begins with two things, one tangible, one more amorphous: color and promise. The days lengthen. The light changes. The views of things change dramatically. For months and months, seemingly forever, I've been walking downtown past the entrance gate to Smith College and checking the time on the big clock on (is this right?) Seelye Hall. Leaves have overtaken the trees, though, and now, I can't simply peek. At the right angle, I can still see the clock, sure, but it's no longer my "view." Over the past six months of so, I thought pretty often about how the buildings–in Northampton, especially on the way in from Smith–some stately ones, take center stage for half the year, and the outline of the hills beyond. When the leaves return, I'm kind of shocked by how leafy they are, how shade works, the sounds they make…

Color and promise in springtime come together, too, when visiting local farmer's markets (what fun we had on Saturday morning there, chatting up the friends we saw, with Lucien, my eleven year-old, carefully purchasing meat and cheese). Last week, Phil Korman, executive director of CISA (and an old friend) came to visit/brainstorm. Besides myself and Hosie (my husband) and Saskia (fifteen months, whose role is to take pens or papers from any working visitor in exchange for requisite cuteness while doing so) David Starr came for the chat; he is an environmentalist with a fledgling organization called Green Northampton (great tag line, Less Carbon, More Community). Phil was enlisting our help in various ways, including helping to get the word out about what CISA does. It's not a short explanation, really. One thing I have been thinking about since we met, though, is how CISA acts as a clearinghouse. You want to find a farm with shares open? Click. You wonder how many farmer's markets exist in the Valley? Click. CISA shepherds the Local Heroes initiative and that has done so much for our area. It's taught so many of us to notice and choose and appreciate the bounty–color and promise made real–of our Valley. Rather than try to write all about CISA, I'm keeping this post short; consider this a beginning to themes I'll return to, because I realize that in so many ways after more than two decades of living in the Pioneer Valley, I'm still honing my personal sense of place.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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