A community needs a place to commune.Here in Aspen, the Saturday Farmers Market has become that place. Each week since the Saturday of the Food & Wine classic (can you believe it has been that long?), locals have been trekking to Hopkins and Hunter to purchase produce, meat, juice, bread, chips, pottery, peppers and Jeffs famous Italian lemon ice.And yet, as good as the produce, meat, juice, bread, chips, pottery, peppers and Jeffs famous Italian lemon ice are and it really is a great selection the draw for most locals, whether they admit it or not, is the opportunity to, well, commune. To get out on one morning a week and serendipitously run into friends, acquaintances and people who you may have seen around and would like to get to know better.The market is our meeting place. No shoes, no shirts, no problem. Bring the kids, bring the dog, everyone is welcome at the Saturday market. It doesnt matter what you wear just as long as you are there (OK, so that that was plagiarized from the epic Motown recording of Dancing in the Streets, performed by the immortal Martha and the Vandellas and written by William Stevens, Ivy Joe Hunter and Marvin Gaye. But it is accurate).But, as with all good things, this too must end. Tomorrow is the final day for the 2005 market. It is the last chance to smell the roasting peppers, to crack open an icy-cold apple juice, to stock up on vine-ripened tomatoes for that pizza sauce that will taste so good come January when you take it from the freezer. It is the last day for the squash raviolis and rosemary pasta. It is the last day to tell the vendors thanks for the time they take to come from the farms and the fields and set up shop on the streets of Aspen.Fortunately, however, tomorrow is not the last day to see those friends and neighbors who have become familiar Saturday morning playmates. Tomorrow, take a pen. Get numbers, take names. Just because the market ends doesnt mean you have to put your relationships on hold until next June.The Saturday Market has from come nowhere in just a few years to being an Aspen summer institution. And when the leaves start to fall and the tourists head home, leaving it to the locals, it becomes more than just a place to buy food and tchotchkes. It becomes a gathering place. Keep that spirit alive through the coming winter and spring.Well all commune again next summer.
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Some days, I miss being back in the saddle. I miss making memories.