As if right on cue, the air turned crisp overnight when the calendar marked the first day of the Fall Equinox earlier this week.
I noticed on my walk that morning that, just like me, fellow urbanite pedestrians traded their shorts and sandals with jackets and scarves.
Literally, an overnight switch had occurred.
Those crisp mornings remind me of early-start-to-the-day visits at the farmers’ markets.
There is something innately natural about visiting markets during this time of year. This season always produces the most colourful rows of deep reds, oranges, yellows, earthy greens and plums as kiosk vendors smile proudly at their harvest.
The possibilities of roasted legumes, spiced baked goods and simmering soups are dreamt up endlessly when one frequents the markets.
Similarly, the equally bountiful flower markets at this time of year remind us that there is also space for floras to bloom in the Autumn air.
I had the joy of basking in the peak time of seasonal markets during my recent time off in early September.
I believe this rainy Sunday is be a perfect day to bring you along these colourful visits to the market with me.
St-Jacobs Farmers Market
The first day of September was a special imprint for me this year. I think it’s because looking back at exactly a year ago, life was very different. My mind and heart were filled with worry and sorrow.
And here we are a year later; my mind and heart are filled with learnings, gratitude and peace.
I had my parents all to myself that first day of September. We spent a full day at St. Jacobs Village, starting with the Farmers’ Market and we proceeded to getting lost in past eras at the local antiques’ market.
My parents had a Lebanese menu to be made once we got home, and I couldn’t wait to use the fresh tomatoes, corn, eggplants and green onions that we picked from the market. I really missed my parents’ kitchen.
In addition to the fresh produce that we brought home, my Mom treated me to these stunningly bright strawflowers. How fascinating that something so delicate can also be so bold in presence.
A reminder to myself, I suppose.
Back at my parents’ kitchen, the dining table filled up with homemade batenjen made from the farmers’ market eggplants, roasted chicken, toum, hummus, and my Mom’s signature tabbouleh made from the tomatoes. Our meal ended with a tasty ice cream birthday cake, and a heartfelt card.
It hit me then that we haven’t shared a birthday cake together in over two years. It felt great to be able to do that again. A scene from the pre-pandemic life that we all lost, has now returned.
Toronto Flower Market
I’ve been so lucky to frequent this year’s Toronto Flower Market pop-ups many times because of how close in proximity they’ve been.
Sometimes, I need to stop and take it in that a flower child, such as myself, lives just steps away from a paradise of petal gatherers.
I generally like going to these flower markets on my own, but this early September version of it, I met up with a dear friend I haven’t seen in over a year. We arrived early so that she (and I!) can take in the scene of these stunning seasonal beauties before the crowds came in.
Satisfied with our browsing and purchases, we proceeded to sit on a nearby bench with a coffee, catching up on everything about life – love, loss, challenges, pain, healing, laughter and hope.
I couldn’t think of a more poetic way to share intimate updates with a friend than doing it at a flower market. Around us, locals were handpicking their flowers with smiles, just as we did earlier on. It made me realize that everyone around here is navigating through pain – past, present or future. We are all trying, learning and staying hopeful.
And I think that’s the unique service that flowers do to the human soul. They lift us up. As Okakura Kakuzo once said, “a garden is a friend you can visit any time”.
Eventually, our appetite led us to a nearby French bakery where we enjoyed croissants and pain au chocolat, and an unintentional picnic table centrepiece of dahlias and sunflowers.
Back at home, my little bouquet of dried flowers lived in the same room as my fresh bouquet I had picked up earlier that morning.
A physical imagery of both seasons coexisting in the nooks of my home. And maybe that’s what I love the most about visiting markets during the cusp of seasonal changes.
We bring that outside change inwards. Both sorrow and joy, just like rain and sunshine, are needed to grow and evolve.
Just like that batch of tomatoes or those arrangements of zinnias. They’ve also seen rain and sun, and that’s what was needed for them to grow.
I hope you enjoy what this season’s soothing bounty has to offer, whether physically or metaphorically.