Sunday, September 24, 2017

Farmers’ Market, Rainbows, and Flowers Part I

We had a rare treat yesterday.  The whole gang, all five of us , got to descend upon our local Farmers’ Market together.  Normally, I’m up by 3:30 on Saturdays.  I putter around the house, work a bit, clean a bit, and then, at the still pre-dawn time of 4:22, I  wake up No. 1, our  six year-old, and No. 2 our four year-old to get ready to head out to do our weekly fruit and vegetable shopping.  The kids hit the potty, put on their shoes and socks, a sweater or two, and perhaps a jacket depending on our weirdly cold San Francisco weather, and we’re off.  Our corner buses don’t run at quarter to five in the morning, so we make our way along the eight tenths of a mile downhill trek to the main artery bus that does run through the night.

No. 1 re-coined the phrase midnight long ago to mean “the middle of the night”, and tells everyone we got to our Farmers’ Market at midnight.  We trundle along, warming up with the activity of walking, running, and skipping as we go.  Sometimes we work on letter recognition using the street names that are carved into the sidewalk corners in San Francisco.  Sometimes we work on memorizing the names of the streets we walk along and cross as we go, preparing for the first solo expeditions the kids will take a few years from now.  There’s almost always a UFO story or two.  We usually reach our bus stop ten to twenty minutes before the 5:22 is scheduled arrive.

The stop is at the bottom of one of our fabled hills, so the kids take turns making up imaginary obstacle courses marked out by shadows and utility lids.  They race down the hill swerving and jumping until they reach me at the bottom, and then walk or run back up for another turn.  When the bus is about a block away I holler “Bus!”  No.1 and 2 wander to the bottom of the hill, hop on, and off we go.  During this flurry of midnight trekking and activities, No. 3 snoozes at home with mom-person.

That’s what we usually do, but yesterday, yesterday I overslept.  I awoke, made my way out to the kitchen, checked the clock, and discovered that it was 5:22: the exact time the three of us were supposed to be almost a mile away climbing onto the bus.   So, I waited.  I worked, took time to ruminate on my own thoughts, and relaxed.  Slowly, the house came awake.  Before too too long, the whole gang was alert and ready to go.

With the luxury of the later hour, our corner buses were running, and we took the 29 down the hill for a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal and breakfast sandwiches.  The kids ordered their own food, taking the time to say hi to the store’s proprietor.  We’re lucky, the neighborhoods in San Francisco resemble small isolated towns more than they do big-city environs.  Our stores are still owned and run by families local to the area, and our kids know most of the folks that run them by sight if not by name.

 Well-fed and almost caffeinated, we headed out again.  We waited for the 14, the lifeblood of Mission St. The 14 was packed as it almost always is.  We hopped in through the second-back of the buses three sets of doors.  No. 1 and 2 weaved though the crowd of boarding people, making their way back to the flexible juncture between the two section of the double-long bus where poles awaited that they could hang onto for the ride.  The other boarders slowed a bit as No. 3 climbed onto the bus.  The front door will ‘kneel’ for passengers that need help with the step.  The back two doors will not, so No. 3 grabbed the door handle, got one foot up on the landing and pulled herself onboard.   Stepping slowly back with the rest of the crowd and just in front of mom-person, No. 3 grabbed a post in front of one of the elevated seats with one hand.  She sighed just a bit, and grabbed the pole with her other hand after mom-person looked down, and said “Two hands.”

The kids take the buses and trains somewhere every day.  No. 3 learned how to get on and off buses at the same time she was learning to walk.  In my mind, she’s like one of those precocious kids you see surfing, or skiing at a tender age.  She’s started to demonstrate that she sees herself the same way.  I often catch her letting go with both hands to practice balancing unsupported as the bus bounces and sways down the road.
With the bus underway, we were headed to Silver where we’d catch the 44, albeit a few hours late, to make our way over the hill.  We climbed onto the popular bus that goes towards Golden Gate Park in one direction, (packed to the gills), and towards our Farmers’ Market in the other, (pleasantly spacious.)  This time we all got seats for the short ride over the crest of the hill that divides our neighborhood from the one that houses the market.

At the bottom of the other side of the hill, we embarked on the remaining half-mile walk.  We popped along down the sidewalk.  No. 3 started on my shoulders, but before long, she asked to get down to explore the sidewalk with her sibs.

Trekking to the market at 5 in the morning, we’ve learned the shortcuts from our fellow shoppers.  We made our under the highway overpass to the spot on the road directly across from the hole in the fence that divides the market from the street.  With No. 3 back on my shoulders, we made the last little sprint across the street, two runners at a time, holding hands.  Filing through the fence-hole at the edge of the market we were greeted with the cacophonous crowd that gathers there well after our usual quarter to five arrival time.

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