It’s been a long time coming. I returned to one of my regular farmers’ markets and one that requires a somewhat foolish loyalty on my schedule. I used to live in this coastal town in Madison so it is an effort to remember my days raising a family in New England during the 2000’s, leaving the stability of my life in the Lehigh Valley and re-settling in a new environment. It’s not without some bittersweet memories, though.

It seems that no matter what time I leave for CT, I manage to pick up enough traffic on the way to always make it possible to arrive with ten minutes to spare. Yup, it happened today. Friday’s on I-95.

I like to set up in the flow of the market as shoppers walk by: picking up flowers, fish and fresh greens. Usually, the clientele walks right by and I get very little in tips – amazing considering the wealth of this demographic. Today was a bit friendlier though, as seems to be the case with the re-opening of our society.

As kids and families walked past, I engaged them with my bag of instruments and it works marvelously. I’ve changed my model a little in that I’ll give the folks one of my kids’ CDs gratis, mostly because I have a ton of them that will never sell, and also because I want to add the legacy of their family experience. Often, the folks are moved to throw some cash into the mando case, too.

As the afternoon moves on, I turn my chair around to face the beautiful open green and play to the families that have now begun to gather on blankets in the open, bringing out snacks, eating pizza from the market’s vendor. The folks often meet up with other young families, bring out grandparents and socialize. It’s an interesting two-part gig for me.

The kids gather in front of me, dive into the instruments, puppets and scarves and they give me a chance to work with the kids on an individual basis. I also get to see some of the kids grow over the several seasons that I’ve performed there. I still marvel that the parents send the kids up with a dollar for mando-case, and my snide inner self says silently, “Ah, yes. Teaching them the value of underpaying the artists in your community.” Even so, I felt glad that I pulled in more $5’s s this year and a general increase in tips.

I feel the appreciation of the vendors, as well. One kind woman from the vegetable stand threw in a tip and a thanks, and the cheese lady across the way gave me a chunk o’ cheese at the end of the day.

The day was made complete by a social visit to my friends Ron and Susan up in Northford for a little picking party later that evening. I haven’t seen these good friends in a long time, and my soul soaked up the love we share. I decided to head home afterwards, thinking the traffic would be smooth sailing, but not so. Lots of time for podcasts. Still, even though I’m whipped today, it was worth the trip.