The late afternoon wind plays with the stray hairs from my pony tail, little strands that escaped the tight clutches of a pink rubber band. The wind sends them armed with tickles to dance on my forehead and cheeks, and through the fluttering mask of hair, I squint in the late afternoon light, looking to the young violinists that have begun to play.
The multiple memories of a bustling farmer’s market are captured in the song of two musicians. The day had been hot and crowded. The strawberries of the season had everyone excited, there were new babies in strollers and the park across the street was a playground for adults dancing and doing yoga in pairs. The small street had been jammed with people, familiar faces who wave at me and those I recognize but have no contact with. I watch them walk by, with their carts and bags and children who have larger vocabularies each time I hear them. The day had been full, there were street musicians every couple of feet and little kids eating ice cream. I had been talking, chatting, pushing the people who were somewhat curious of me into interaction. I had used a lot of energy, and if I sat back slightly, just listening to the violin players, I could feel the pull of tiredness.
Now, even though the day was still very warm and light, the blocked off street was nearly deserted, the market had closed only minutes before and the shoppers had scattered into Berkeley. There were just a handful of late shoppers looking for a good deal and vendors sweeping up piles of lost spinach and stray strawberries that had fallen to the asphalt.
The sounds of violins wound their way around me like a cyclone, coating me in a moving song that held softly to the melancholy of a movie approaching its credit roll. Yes, the market day was almost over, the energy of a Saturday was being folded and packed up and put into trucks and rolled away in large vans that smelled of the fields they had journeyed from. This was the song of the end, the finale in golden light and swaying plains and drifters headed for a train car that stood idle on the tracks. This song was everything we did, everything we were, everything that was...everything that IS.
I was folding my tablecloth when a man stopped to look at me, his hands holding plastic bags full of produce.
“I love walking around here at the end, it’s so cool, I get to see what’s under the display. Like, under your display, it’s just a couple saw horses and wooden planks.” He smiled at me.
“Yeah,” I said, “it’s like seeing the man behind the wizard’s mask.”
We smiled at each other and he walked on. The violinists played on, holding the moment for me just a bit longer.