Ripe for the pickin’ |

Ripe for the pickin’

Paul E. Anna

The early bird gets the worm.That old homily suggests that if you want to get the best of something you better get to it early, and the Saturday Farmers Market in Aspen fits that description to a T.Those in the know know that if you want the freshest fruit, the tallest sunflowers, the sweetest corn and breads, still warm from the oven, you need to get downtown by 10 a.m. After that the pickings start to slim as the crowds rush in to gather their weekend bounty.But aside from getting the pick of the litter, there are other reasons for getting up early on a summer/fall Saturday and making your way into the core of Aspen. The early morning sun lights the stage as farmers and artisan craftsmen set up their wares for the soon-to-be throngs. Dogs wag their tails in glee as they get reacquainted with their Saturday pals. The smell of the fresh arugula and just-beginning-to-roast peppers fill the air.In the last few years the market has become more than just a tradition in Aspen. For many it has become a way of life. Each Saturday people go to get their week’s worth of fruits and vegetables, pasta from Parppardelle’s, and Daphne’s beautiful flowers from Zephryros Farm, which grace their tables for the entire week.Others come to find the little finds they can’t get anyplace else. Handmade pottery from the Airstream that Allegheny Meadows has turned into treasure, locally produced jewelry, or the hemp clothing that is so comfortable on the body.And then there are those folks who come each Saturday just to walk around, pet the puppies, have a scoop of Jeff’s Italian Ices and talk to their friends and neighbors. It is perhaps the most community-oriented place left in a community that occasionally seems to have lost its orientation.Throughout history, marketplaces have served as both commercial and cultural focal points. They were not only where people shopped for goods but also where they sought out their neighbors, their gossip, their political ideas and their social interactions. They were the place where people came together.We miss that experience when we stop at City Market for a loaf of Wonder Bread. Sure it’s convenient but it seems that we sacrifice much for that convenience. Farmers markets go a long way toward restoring a social balance. They give us an excuse to commingle in the streets, to see our neighbors and friends on an impromptu basis.So this Saturday come early and stay late. You’ll be glad you did.