“Little Darling, it’s been a long cold, lonely winter.”
Thank you, George Harrison. My thoughts exactly! It’s finally here – market season.
There are few things that rouse me out of a comfortable bed on a Saturday when there is nowhere in particular I need to be and my to-do list is short. Some fleeting spring sunshine makes my imagination go wild with anticipation of some farmer’s market booty. I rise quickly, and even forgo a morning cup of coffee, gather some reusable bags and a collection of small bills. I’m off!
My own market of choice is the Countryside Farmer’s Market at Howe Meadow, now in its 10th year. I think we foodies realize how fortunate we are to have so many excellent markets in our area. It almost makes up for those dreadful long winter months. Almost. By summer’s end, I’ll have happily experienced many of the area’s great markets like the North Union Farmer’s Market at Shaker Square, or Haymaker Market down in Kent. But I find that there is something extra special about the market I know best because it’s my market. Reliable. Familiar. Welcoming. I don’t have to think about where to park, how things work or who will be there. I just know.
The Countryside Market is nestled in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My market adventure begins with a drive down Truxell Road, where I may be greeted with morning mist over Kendall Lake, a swift coyote, or a gathering of deer on Brandywine golf course. A turn onto Bolanz Road and I’m likely to disperse a posse of unapologetic black crows (I just can’t bring myself to call them a “murder” of crows) and just as many colorful cyclists crossing the towpath. A final turn onto Riverview, and I am already noodling recipes in my head and honing my shopping strategy.
As I pull into the Howe Meadow, I look at my clock to make sure I will be early enough to catch Market Manager Beth Knorr ringing the morning bell. It might be my competitive nature, or just that my shopping list includes some of the more popular springtime items like asparagus and ramps. Either way, that bell is downright Pavlovian to me. I have a mission, and dreams of a delicious breakfast and a well-earned cup of French press coffee when I return home.
This week, I’ll enjoy coffee from Crooked River Coffee, a delicate lettuce mix from Red Basket Farms, apple bratwurst and the biggest, most luscious eggs I’ve ever found from Brunty Farms, Sweet Fire Chevre from Mackenzie Creamery, bread and scones from Great Lakes Baking Co. and something new and slightly daring (for me anyway), ramps from Breezy Hill Farm. It seems like everyone is talking about ramps, so I’ve got to see what all the fuss is about. Wish me luck!