This past weekend, my beloved and I took a small excursion to the tiny village of St. Jacobs here in Southwestern Ontario. In the heart of Mennonite country, the area—along with another small town called Elmira—has a rich, farming history and despite what many think, the residents have shown themselves amazingly adept at adjusting to the changing times.
St. Jacobs is a huge tourist draw, for nothing brings people in like the enormous Farmer’s Market, just three kilometers outside of the village proper. This was my second trip to the market this year. I went just over a month ago with my daughter. We traditionally go on a Saturday, although the market is open on Tuesdays in the summer as well as Thursday and Saturday all year round.
There are two large buildings and a bevy of tented stalls at the market. In one building you can find meat, cheese, baked goods, produce—everything that a good market has to offer as well as the best apple fritters anywhere. Upstairs there are hand sewn Mennonite crafts, as well as other assorted dry goods. The other building has more of the same and features a food court and mini “flea market”.
One meat we get every time we go, is something you don’t see around here much: smoked pork chops. They’re ready to eat, and we usually have them cold, with salads—a terrific summer meal.
While at the market I made a discovery, this past Saturday. And it pertains to one of the basic differences between men and women.
We usually park near the building that has the meat because they have accessible parking spots there. Unless you arrive very early, you’re looking at a long walk, because the market is extremely popular. So we park close, and I am able to walk through this very large building. It’s crowded, but that usually doesn’t faze me overly much. We spent a good half hour or more there, and made the complete circuit. We bought some of those chops, this time, as well as a couple of rib eye steaks. I wasn’t looking to stock up, but I have in the past bought sausage, and chicken and hamburger. Some of the vendors, local businesses all, have signs that assure the buying public that their meat contains no growth hormones or other harmful chemicals. For those who studiously avoid same, that is an assurance you can take to the bank.
There’re also a couple of bakeries represented in this building. One, The Stone Crock, has quite a presence in the village, with a restaurant, meat shop, café, and ‘bar and grill’ all connected taking up a full block. The other, I have no idea if they have a brick and mortar store of their own, has been at the market for as long as I have been going there, and they always have the best sticky buns and bruschetta.
After we finished our tour of the building, we took the meat to the car, and put it in the cooler bag. We always bring one, that way even on the hottest day we can take some time to tour the rest of the market, which is quite vast, really. Once the meat has been placed in the bag, the wheelchair comes out of the trunk.
Yes, I have a wheelchair, which I use when there is someplace I want to go or see that would require more than a half hour’s walking. It took me a long time to overcome my prideful tendencies and say yes to the chair. But I have and I do, and it’s a blessing because now I can go and see and do, where I could not before.
And that brings me to the difference between men and women.
My beloved never minds pushing this chair—it’s one with small wheels, not the larger, so I really can’t manoeuvre it myself. Anyway, he never minds pushing it—but he never sees the large cracks ahead in the pavement, or ridges on the sidewalks and sometimes, I squeal as the chair hits these ruts and keeps going, but not in the way it’s supposed to go if you know what I mean.
I have told him, not completely jokingly, that if he dumps me on the ground his life will become a living, breathing hell. That gets his attention, which usually is wandering to the things he wants to look at, and not at where I’m going.
The first item on my agenda was peaches. I have it in mind to make peach jam this year, but they’re not ripe enough for that yet in this area. I bought a small basket anyway, for the kids and to make a cobbler with. David needed to stop at one vendor in the next aisle that sells cloth work gloves. Then he asked me, “What do you need to get next?”
Now friends, you know I don’t shop a lot, and I don’t like to shop, normally. But you also know how I like to look at the sparkly, the shiny and the different that you can see at typical “tourist” venues. So I said, “Nothing in particular, I just want to see what’s here.”
Well, I tell you truly I thought he’d entered us in a race! He moved so fast—yes, faster than I have seen him move in some time—that even whipping my head left and right, I could barely see what was being offered, let alone consider buying anything. Oh, and he did a wide sweep around the table that held hundreds of watches. He swore that manoeuvre was totally innocent. He hadn’t meant to deprive me of the chance to buy a new watch (they’re about 10 bucks a piece, so no big cash outlay here). Did I want to go back?
No, said I. That’s quite all right, said I. And it was, really.
Because the next time I go to the market, I’ll have my daughter with me. The watches will certainly still be there. As for my beloved, however, I’m afraid that when it comes to pushing me anywhere I need to go to see and do and consider, well, that’s a task he has now been officially fired from.