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"Aren't we all?"

The Muse and I become more insistent than actually obsessive come Saturday morning. We both know what we'll do. Beyond the age when we're obligated to attend any juvenile soccer games, we understand that Saturday morning's reserved far in advance for restocking the larder. This routine repeats itself without becoming ever the same each time, for as the seasons progress, different necessities emerge. In January, our go-to family-run produce stand's closed for the season, so we're relegated to picking through the less discerning supermarket's variety. In high July, though, that stand's finally wide-open, past the Saturdays when they offered the choice between onions and potatoes or both.

Asparagus was finished last week, other than that pencil dick, past season stuff that could be credibly hollowed out and fitted with a graphite core and used for scribbling.
The cherries have peaked, probably on the last week for the local ones. The Muse buys twenty pounds of them. The lettuces all look like they barely survived a prairie cyclone, muddied, wind-burnt, and stunted. Tomatoes have finally arrived, ones without the cardboard core and don't ask for an arm and a leg in return. A bin of green beans prove to be the first on offer since late last summer that I won't have to blush with embarrassment to buy. We try to eat to excess whatever's in season. In mid-July, a guy's got to overeat to just live up to his seasonal responsibility.

Fresh fruit without a Transformer-sized carbon footprint seems a challenge to find for most of the year, and a fella can only swallow so many apples, no matter how crisp and tart they might taste. Stone fruit, something with a decent pit that one needs to negotiate out of place with tooth and tongue without chipping the odd tooth, comes as a revelation each year. Apricots are well worth their weight in gold and seem cheap when sold in any other currency. We fancy ourselves NuthinSpecial, but we easily just up and leave a shop if we don't find the quality of whatever enticed us to stop there. Most of the farmers' market stalls fail to stall our strolling even a small step, for they're priced for Millennial rubes, kids who've adopted some popular diet and don't mind paying for the self-important, conspicuous status symbols it requires. We won't pay a buck apiece for red beets no matter how pristine their greens or how paleo their provenance.

I'm always up to something as we shop. Today, I was imagining some steak and kidney pie with a marrow bone steam chimney in the middle, so I kept my eye out for what might pass for proper ingredients, knowing that I will not find ox kidney on offer wherever I might search. I figure lamb kidneys should suffice, but could not find a crappy enough cut of beef, for a proper steak and kidney really wants a stringy, grass-fed hunk of steak that would not prove acceptable to anyone with a palate without the gravy and the crust covers. We peruse for possibilities rather than produce. We shop for the larder, believing that a well-stocked larder provides adequate latitude to decide a menu without ponderous previous planning. Vinegars and oils, cheeses and breads, greens and root veg, fruits in seasonal turn, waxing and waning as availability connects with want. The figs today could not be denied their presence on our table tonight, their short shelf life sealing their almost immediate fate.

The Muse and I do nothing else in such concert. We will be up and out each Saturday morning, no matter how tuckered the receding week left us. We'll tune into the latest installment of
Radio Deluxe, losing continuity as we stop and restart the show. This morning, Ella and Louis were harmonizing over Oscar Peterson's quartet, lubricating our path between our weekly stations of our most enduring cross. We follow a similar but hardly identical path each week, old regulars at most every stop. We usually manage more than a perfunctory good morning wherever we pause, for we have built up history there.

"What are you doing minding the counter? You're a master meat cutter."

"Well, yea, I am, but I hurt myself and couldn't work for a while, so I'm working myself back into good graces again."

Aren't we all?

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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