The Vegetable Market & U-Pick-‘Em Farm
Written By: David-Reaford Davis
All my friends say, “ Bubba ( a loving, endearing term to acknowledge respect like a big brother type that you look up to, who has more knowledge and life experiences than you have), you’re retired and got plenty of money. You out to travel and see the sights, you know, New York, Paris.” Well I’ve already been up there, once, almost. I didn’t make it all the way. I got almost half way and turned around an’ went home. I couldn’t find any life-sustaining necessities like pickled collards or balled peanuts. Plus, I’ve embarrassed myself enough for one lifetime asking those tourist questions. You know the ones. I’m sure you’ve asked your share of them too. All tourists are compelled to ask them.
One time when I went to the Cayman Islands to see the sights and to visit my money, one of the passengers in our taxi asked the driver, “What’s that growing out there in the field?”
The driver politely answered “Casaba.”
Driver, “Ya’ Mon.”
Tourist, “How do you spell Casaba?”
Driver, “C-A-S….” then I’m sure he was full of tourist questions for one day, he said, “Hey mon, we don’t spell it around here, we eat it.”
When my friends talk about seeing all the sites around the world, I let the conversation die down and then I nonchalantly ask, “Hey Bo,(a loving and endearing term to acknowledge respect to someone who has equal knowledge and life experience as you have), how’s the balled peanuts in New York, or how’s the balled peanuts in Paris,” or from wherever they’ve been? Invariably, the answer is the same. “Bubba, I didn’t see any balled peanuts.” That tells me all I need to know. There is no need for me to go there and ask tourist questions, that’s for sure!
I do go somewhere every day to see the sights and to eat the best balled peanuts in the world. Everything there is the best in the world, collards, okra, blackberries, strawberries, flowers you can cut, tomato pie, Blenheim Ginger Ale. If you are a tourist, don’t get the red-capped Blenheim unless your sinuses are stopped up.
It’s on the island, not far down the road, just before you get to the beach. You can’t miss it. It has an American flag out front, purple martin gourds and a little chicken coup beside the parking lot. Most of the cars in the parking lot have out-of-state tags. Everybody else is here, so this must be the place to be at. It’s the vegetable market and u-pick-‘em farm.
One day Farmer put a sign on that little chicken coup, “World Famous Show Chickens,” but at that time the only chicken in the coup was a little gamecock rooster. Now, everybody knows a gamecock is a scrappy as anything anywhere on the face of the Earth. Well, that statement is hotly contested in these parts. Some say it’s the bulldog, others say it’s the tiger. I could say, but I ain’t stupid, you know. I will say this-just wait till the tide rolls in.
Anyway, you can tie an ear of corn on the end of a piece of string, drop it down in the coup, and that rooster will peck at it all day long.
Back to those World Famous Show Chickens everybody is wanting to see. Cuz (that’s family) called me one day and asked me if I wanted five of his ten chickens (he had bought ten day-day old chicks at the tractor store). He put down some newspapers and kept them hemmed up in the bathroom until they got all their feathers. They were absolutely beautiful. I asked, “Cuz, why do you want to give me five of your prized chickens?” He said, “Cuz, I’m only going to take five to the hunt club, and besides I need to take a bath.” I took them even thought I couldn’t put them with my chickens because chickens need to get to know each other before you can put them together. Besides all of that, Cuz was right; he did need to take a bath.
Charlie is my go-to guy, so I called Charlie to ask him if he wanted those five chickens. He said yes, so he took them. Later on, when I saw Charlie again, I asked how those chickens were doing. He said he gave them to his nephew, and his nephew gave them to Farmer at the vegetable market. Since I go there every day to see the sights and eat balled peanuts, I asked Farmer if those World Famous Show Chickens everybody was waiting to see were the same ones Charlie’s nephew gave him. He said, “Yes.” I asked, “Well where are they?” He said, “I’m grooming them at the farm before I put them in the coup out front.” Now, Farmer has never ever told a lie in his life, so if he says he is grooming those chickens, he’s grooming those chickens. A couple of weeks later I noticed the “World Famous Show Chickens” sign was gone. I asked Farmer what happened. He said, “I traded those chickens to the man across the road for some guinea eggs.” Oh well, that scrappy little rooster is still there strutting around waiting for someone to drop an ear of corn in there so he can peck it.
One day a lady drove up. She wasn’t from around here. I saw her license plate, and believe me that’s not all. She has probably seen Times Square and maybe even the Eiffel Tower, but I guarantee you, she has never seen a strawberry patch before. So here she is in her high dollar latest designer blouse, skirt and high heels not knowing you are supposed to squat, not stoop, dressed like that. Don’t laugh-that would disrespect the memory of her, and that’s not the point. The funny part was watching those two boys cutting grass between the rows of plants. By the time that lady picked her two bucketsful, those boys had mowed down over half of the strawberry plants and chopped up strawberries were all over the place.
Then there was the king snake hanging around eating lizards and things. Now a king snake is as pretty of a snake you will ever want to see. That’s why you cut the grass so you can see them better. All I said was, “Look out for that king snake.” I guess no one wanted to see it because everybody dropped their u-pick buckets, ran for their cars and left. Farmer told me if I ever said anything to his customers or answered any of those tourist questions again, he was going to take my peanuts away from me.
Another day a tourist came in, picked up a box of the best tea in the world, locally grown, of course (we have been growing tea around here over three hundred years) and asked, “Is this tea, diet?” I didn’t say a word. I couldn't.
Men tourists headed for the beach are very predictable, baseball cap, tee shirt, short pants, sandals or tennis shoes. Women tourists, well that’s another story. You see all types of cloth wrapped around them. No matter what the style, we call them cover ups. Now that is an oxymoron if I’ve ever seen one. Of all the different styles, I have not seen even one that covered up right. Yep, one of those walked in the other day. Yep, one of those walked in the other day. Someone had to go check it out and see what was going on. We finally alleviated everyone’s anxiety by announcing, yes, there was a bathing suit under that. Thanks for small favors. It looked like that was all it was.
The market was packed with customers as usual. I told you everything in there is the best in the world. A lady in the very back of the checkout line held up an ear of corn and asked one of the tourist questions, “How do you get the shuck off?” The whole market went silent. I started to say something, but I remembered what Farmer had told me. After many moments of dead silence, one of the owners, without blinking, explained it to her. Now, if I was a writer, I’d write one of those “self-help, how to” books on life and title it, “How You Get The Shuck Off.”
Hey Bo, you should have been here when a little field mouse set up housekeeping in the porta-poti. I bet you won’t see anything like that in New York or Paris.