Farmers markets are re-opening all over the city right now. My personal favorite, Columbia City, started up again today, so I headed south after work to get in on the action. When I arrived there was a terrific crowd on hand and plenty of foot traffic from the neighborhood. That friendly feel is just one of the many things I love about this market, though you would also have to count the unbelievable corn, peaches, and plums we found there last summer. And Columbia City just feels closer to the earth to me. A number of farmers were selling plant starts today, including giant tomato seedlings. No fewer than four different Hmong farmers were tying up big bouquets of their flowers at reasonable prices.

I circled the joint a couple of times getting the old feel back and taking gleeful note of the asparagus and snap peas on offer everywhere. Port Madison had already run out of their luscious Sea Stack cheese, a runny, creamy Camebert-like round that is just to die for. “We had no idea it would be so busy,” the nice young woman said. “This being opening day and all.” Personally I was thrilled for the variety, for the kale and raab and broccoli and cauliflower. One farmer even had big bins of peanuts. Who knew?

It was all so exciting that I couldn’t help adding a bunch of young, gorgeous chard leaves to my purchases. Riding the bus home I reminded myself how I couldn’t give away enough chard last summer, we had so much of it. How in February I’d pulled up the overwintered chard stumps for just that reason. I could be picking my own had I only practiced a little restraint back then, I realized. But I got over it. Because there’s just something so wonderful about the first of the season.

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