Source goes to bed – newspaper slang for being printed – on Thursdays. So Wednesdays, as you can imagine, are very busy days. This past Wednesday as I marched anxiously to work, ticking off in my head the long list of things I hadn’t yet done, feeling late, late, LATE, barely taking in the mild, blue-skied, cotton-candy-clouded, perfect spring day, I was stopped in my tracks at the very foot of my office buliding.

Between me and my desk, the outdoor Portland Farmers’ Market was in full bud. At last. Some three weeks earlier, spring not remotely in the air, one lone farmer had bravely set up a single stand in Monument Square. Warm and dry, I peered down on him from my office window. Two weeks earlier, a cold, gray, miserable day masquerading as spring, three farmers had settled in with tables of the last of last fall’s turnips, cabbages and apples. One week earlier, yet another chill, damp day, the market stands – and the available produce – had multiplied, a hopeful sign.

But this past week, suddenly a dozen stands, maybe more. Work would have to wait. I sniffed the air. I dug out my tote. I walked from stall to stall, dizzy. Pea shoots? Already the end of their season threatens. Better grab them. Lacy baby kale? Pretty as it was, I resolutely walked by. Next week, for sure. But I caved at the pale green lettuces, and I went back to grab a second bunch of charming, cream-colored spring turnips.

Work briefly disappeared.

Until a new anxiety surfaced. In truth, an old anxiety. It’s barely May, yet already I felt the press of Northern New England’s all too fleeting eating season. Soon, I knew from experience, I would overbuy, seriously overbuy, and do so week after inevitable week. I’d be powerless to resist the call of a rhubarb stalk or a quart of berries (many quarts) or ramps (blink and they’re gone) or Romanesco zucchini (never at the supermarket) or, or, or… The list is long and luring.

I could see already the shape of my summer weekends – not at the beach, not climbing to Lonesome Lake, not kayaking the Kennebec, not even keeping my apartment spic and span. Instead, I’d have to answer to a spring, summer and fall’s worth of bounteous and accusing piles, bowls and overflowing buckets of local fruits and vegetables. The chances are good that I would find myself, as I have before, standing in my underwear in a sweltering, airless 104-degree apartment, sweat running in rivulets as I canned strawberry jam; farmers market berries don’t wait for a heat wave to break. By September, when market tables groan with a mashup of end-of-summer, start-of-fall produce, I expect to be, as always, utterly at their mercy.

It’s a crazy, stupid love.

One harmless bag of pea tendrils, two innocent bunches of turnips, three innocuous pink radishes and a bag of tender lettuce leaves later, I head in. Work won’t wait, either.

And so it begins.

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