Today is Market Day in Astoria! Oh Boy?

Rue Mouffetard, Paris

For the last forty-plus years, my summer Sundays have been pretty much focused on Vespers, and participation in other functions have had to work around those three o’clock church services. Astoria’s Sunday Market is one of the events we think about longingly each year – but, actually, I’m not sure why.  When we have managed to go, we are usually disappointed.  However, we keep trying.  We are ever hopeful.

Since Vespers doesn’t begin until next week, we’ve decided to head for Astoria today and give the Market another go.  In an effort to stave off the chance (yet again) for negative feelings, we’ve tried to analyze what our “problem” is.   (We are quite sure the problem is ours and not inherent in the Market, itself.  Everyone else we know has positive things to say.  It must be just us.)

Perhaps it’s that we’ve gone too early in the past.  Typically, it opens on Mother’s Day in mid-May, but we’ve found limited produce at that time of year and that’s always our main interest in going.  Or perhaps therein lies our problem – other vendors outnumber the produce vendors by far.  In fact, according to their current website:

Campo de Fiori, Rome

Astoria Sunday Market began in 2000 and now covers four city blocks adjacent to east and westbound US Highway 30, with over 200 vendors on a typical Sunday… features up to 200 vendors each week offering locally-made products that have been hand-crafted, grown, created or gathered by the farmers, craftspeople and artisans featured each week.

I think we might be stuck in an old-fashioned concept of what a market should be based on the many street markets we’ve gone to in Europe – and not that recently, either.  Perhaps things have changed there, too.  But it used to be (in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s of the last century) that “markets” featuring fruits, vegetables, other edibles — often on certain days in particular neighborhoods – were different from “flea markets” or where you might find everything from authentic European antiques to fake watches, from classical furniture to the latest sneakers.

I am reminded that my mother always made a distinction between “marketing” and “shopping.”  She never, for instance, went “shopping” at the grocery store.  A trip to Jack’s Country Store to replenish the larder was “going to do a little marketing.”  A shopping trip usually meant clothes-buying of some sort.  I don’t remember my mother and father ever going to a thrift store or a junque shoppe.  Maybe to an antique shop once in a while.

Waterloo Flea Market

So… this morning as we thought about our day’s adventure in Astoria, we tried to adjust our expectations.  We are at the stage in life where we don’t need (or want) a single additional craft or piece of jewelry or art or kitchen gewgaw.  Our motto has been “if we can’t eat it or wear it, we don’t need it” – and the wearing part is pretty iffy, too.  So… if it’s not yet too early in the growing season, we are hoping to come home with some fresh produce and maybe a loaf or two of crusty bread.  We’ll just enjoy looking at the rest.  Unless it keeps raining.  Then, all bets are off.

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