Monday, July 23, 2018

rain, wind, walls, wa-Hoo-hee

The Saturday morning forecast called for rain and wind from the northwest, and as I set up my booth at the farmers market there was rain and wind from the northwest. The tent was up, in its usual place. At first, as I was unloading my stuff, the bins of candles and the table and the little shelf I use on the table, the rain was light, but as I began to set up, getting out the tablecloth, positioning the little shelf on the tablecloth, getting out the first candles, I realized I should get a wall up on the booth’s northwest side. So I went to the storage room at the opposite end of the market, where the Commons building is and where the tents and walls are kept, and got a wall, a large, white, nylon sheet that attaches with Velcro straps to the tent’s braces. I put up the wall, continued getting out candles, then realized a wall on the northeast side of the booth would help so went to the storage room and got another wall, put it up. The rain fell harder. The wind picked up. I realized that without a wall on the southwest side of the booth my table and everything on it would get wet. Very wet. I had to think about this for a minute. The southwest side of the booth is the front of the booth. It is the face I present to the passing throngs of potential customers.

I went to the storage room and got a wall, put it up on the southwest side of the booth. These walls will zip together, form one neat wrap, and eventually I got them all zippered up and felt adequately sheltered. I turned my table to face the southeast opening, which worked well enough as my neighbor on that side is around a soft corner, not exactly perpendicular, but good enough, and people rounding that corner could see into my booth. People approaching from the other way could peer around and in as they passed. Not that there were that many people first thing in the morning in the drenching rain and wind. But there are always some. Inside the booth, the candles and I stayed dry, and if anyone joined us they were out of the rain and wind for a moment.

But it felt odd having walls. It felt even odder facing southeast rather than southwest. Vendors like me who are at the market every week set up in the same place, in the same way, every time. It’s routine, it’s continuity, and it’s a heck of a lot easier than everyone jostling for a space, having to figure out on the fly on a Saturday morning where they are going to be and the best way to set up wherever they land—there are all sorts of variables—and of course with a regular spot regular customers know where to find you. So we have our spots, determined long before the market season begins by the woman who manages the whole thing, and it works, and we develop our routines and our specific ways of arranging things and seldom does it vary throughout the season and for many across the years. Then suddenly one July morning you have three walls, face southeast rather than southwest, and are layered in two shirts and a sweater.

Mid-morning it stopped raining. It stopped blowing. I pulled back the southwest wall, bit by bit, biding my time. Would the dry hold? I got a weather report. It looked good. It looked dry. Cool, cloudy, but dry. I peeled back the southwest wall, eventually taking it down. I moved my table so it was on a diagonal (I always wanted to try that). Then the northwest wall came down, then the northeast, and I opened the back hatch of the car so Josie could watch the action. This is his routine, and he was glad to be back at it. He lays in the back of the car in his bed, his chin on the bolster, looking out, watching (from a raised vantage point as the parking lot is up a few feet), eventually drifting off into a snooze.

All morning, interesting people. A family from Texas; a young couple from Wisconsin on their honeymoon; the Illinois couple who stop to visit whenever it’s a Saturday and they’re in town—we have an odd connection. The husband and I were at junior high together and for several years in our middle-age we worked at the same place, all the while unknown to one another. And there was a person with multiple personality disorder. They told me the Cherokee word for “owl.” I wrote it down as “wa-Hoo-hee,” accent on the “Hoo,” this being the pronunciation and not spelling, and I enjoyed saying it so much I might have said it three or four too many times but maybe not as this person intentionally left two quarters on the table, For the next person, they said. And it became a thing for the rest of the day. A nice thing.

All in all, a good day. But an odd day. Left me feeling skewed. Open to change but vulnerable to change. A strange reverberation.