Strolling past each booth of fresh-cut flowers and freshly-gathered eggs, my wife and I stopped at a booth carrying bread. Next to the booth, a man in a cycling outfit was doing yoga in the afternoon sun. He came over and he explained the rye: it was dark, perfect with cream cheese and jam.
He only took cash, same with everyone else at the market. Same with the town’s transfer station, the place where people bring their trash, recyclables, and giveaways. Clearing out the basement of our new home, I unloaded a roll of carpet and was about to throw it away. “That’s going to need to go with the construction items. That’ll be $5.” I asked if they took credit card. No, but you can bring the cash next time.
Driving along the Connecticut River, we see a sign for local blueberries. Behind the small Cape Cod-style house is a web of white netting surrounding bushes. The blueberries are in a cart on the yard shaded from the sun. Next to the berries is a tin with a sign telling me to leave $5 and enjoy. I had no cash. They had no Venmo QR code.
These roadside booths are everywhere. Fresh-cut flowers. Raspberries. Eggs. Milk. Greens. Vegetables. A lean-to with a refrigerator in it full of all these items. Inside, a jar to leave your cash.
My wife and I moved to Western Massachusetts from Colorado a month ago.
Coming from Denver, where Farmers Markets are nauseating events arranged by one big corporation, being in the heart of a bountiful valley is beyond refreshing: it’s revitalizing. This is a place where food is grown.
I grew up in Vermont, but you wouldn’t know it. I forgot about being a Yankee: When you use your card, companies track you. You need extra equipment and a whole heck of a lot of unnecessary stuff to accept credit. Then, to pay for the inconvenience, they take 3% if you’re lucky.
“But companies don’t track you with Apple Pay! You only need your phone!” I think to myself, knowing I sound desperate.
I wonder how long it will take for me to acclimate and relax? Until I leave my phone and my credit card when I go the farmers’ market. Look at the flowers a bit closer. Chat about the weather. Peruse the veggies, pick up some good-looking radishes, and hand the person a fiver.