Market Mania

So far I’ve spent this blog just kind of blabbing various thoughts in my head or expressing anxiety over certain life troubles. That’s totally not the point here.  The point is an exploration of Austin, something I seem to be doing but not actually putting it down here. So all the things I’m about to say happened before the holidays but who really cares. Better late than never.

My favorite thing in the world is markets. Every city I go to I find out if they have a market. What kind is it? Is there more than one? It doesn’t matter if it’s food, craft, flea, cheesy, or holiday themed. I will go there and I will love it. To the vendors of these fine places, I apologize. I rarely actually purchase anything. Not only am I simply poor but I also poorly plan things. I can never afford to buy much and I, for some terrible and unexplainable reason, have usually just been to the grocery store right before I go to the farmer’s market.

But since my move to Austin I have had the pleasure of exploring several of the city’s fine markets. A friend of a friend, offered me a few hours work helping him sell bison at his booth in the Austin Farmer’s Market Downtown. Check it out: Thunderheart Bison! From this couple Saturdays of walking around right before the vendors shut I got to see a bit of its selection. And while this market does not compare to most cities’ markets (none of the Austin Markets are very big), it is so far my favorite regularly occurring one. I’ve had very good luck buying vegetables from various vendors here (two weeks ago I bought green tomatoes and made fried green tomatoes, goat cheese grits and biscuits with fresh parsley and garlic in them) and the marinated feta I bought rocks my world. It’s all food here, both prepared and otherwise. The breakfast tacos are addictive and the  chocolate I bought my dad for Christmas from Cocoa Puro Kakawa Chocolates was a big hit. There’s also live music which usually varies as much in style as it does in quality. It’s definitely a get there early type situation. Everything will sell out.

Next I tried something with a little holiday spirit, the Blue Genie Art Bazaar. And while it is oddly located, has a horribly designed website and is pretty small, it does not disappoint. It was packed with local jewelry, artwork and other various crafts. It was cute and quirky. My only drawback was that it was not cheap and my wallet is quite small. I wasn’t able to afford much there although it all depends on what you’re looking for, etc.

The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar on the other hand was all disappointment. Located at the large Palmer Events Center and with excellent advertising, I thought it would have a variety of prices and things I might be able to purchase. With a $4 entry fee, surely it would be worthwhile. There was certainly a variety of crafts and artwork. It was pleasantly accompanied by live music and had (over priced) food and drink for sale. Many shoppers were walking around sipping local beers and probably equally delightful glasses of wine. Everything, absolutely everything, was expensive. Necklaces similar to those I saw at Blue Genie were twice the price. All but the cheesiest of gifts seemed to live in the $40+ range. Painful. After learning how much these things would cost me, including the cup of tea I wanted to sip, I was no longer truly able to enjoy the bazaar and took my leave. I’m sure the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is up many people’s alleys but it did not accommodate mine.

Today after a bit of yoga and a short jog by the lake (look at me and my healthy new year!) I stopped by the Hope Farmers Market in East Austin. It was very small and certainly not busy  but fun, upbeat tunes were being played. And when I bought my cauliflower and expensive eggs the vendor gave me another one for free. Thank you, helpful vendor man. I enjoyed all the artwork displayed and while I wasn’t hungry, there was a lot of happily munching people walking around on sausages, etc. My favorite part of this market has to be what HOPE stands for. I never even thought that HOPE might have a special meaning before I saw a sign: Helping Other People Everywhere. Check out the Hope Campaign to find out more about their work.

In Port Arthur, Tasmania, I walked around their convict museum. There was a section on convict tattoos and what they meant to the men that wore them. The one that captured my eye the most was a large tattoo of Lady Justice with her scales. Can you imagine what it must have meant for a convict, possibly wrongly imprisoned as was common and given the overly harsh sentence of being transported from his home to live as a prisoner across the world, to get a tattoo of Lady Justice? At first I thought the men would have been mocking justice, saying that they are proof it doesn’t exist. But as the museum’s board informed me, it meant hope. Hope, that one day justice would prevail and they would once again be free men.

Since I saw that I realized hope is what life should really be about. The hope I have for my own life, for my family, for the world. But the Hope Campaign has perhaps formed an even more accurate and important view on the word hope.

How can there even be hope if there are not people “Helping Other People Everywhere”?

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